Metro Health: Unvaccinated make up 97% of COVID hospitalizations, average death age getting younger

As Delta variant spreads, demand for COVID vaccines increase in Nashville
Posted at 9:13 AM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 12:38:19-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Public Health is urging residents to get vaccinated as COVID cases and hospitalizations surge amid the spread of the Delta variant.


Dr. Alex Jahangir said this past weekend, there were three deaths at Nashville hospitals – all were under the age of 40 and all were unvaccinated. He said 97% of those admitted to area hospitals are not vaccinated and they’re seeing a similar percentage with the number of deaths.

He also said the average age of those dying is getting younger. In Nashville, the average age is now 61 years old – compared to 76 last winter. Dr. Jahangir said that’s directly correlated to more older adults being vaccinated.

"It’s very simple, please get vaccinated,” he said.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center had 120 COVID patients in its hospital systems last week. This week, that number jumped to 130, and among those, 13 are children.

Dr. William Schaffner said their patients are “overwhelmingly” -- well over 95% -- unvaccinated.

“In June, things were looking up. We thought we were getting ahead of this virus, and we were on the route to opening up, in a new fashion, but nonetheless opening up. And what happened? Along came Delta. A variant of this virus that’s just extraordinarily contagious. More contagious than the previous viruses we had dealt with and one that may be more serious if you do get infected,” said Schaffner. “So, now we are in the midst of another increase in cases.”

Dr. Schaffner said it’s unusual for a vaccinated person to have to be hospitalized. In general, those vaccinated patients tend to be older adults or younger patients who are immunocompromised. However, he said these types of breakthrough cases were anticipated.

He said virtually all hospitalizations are “preventable through vaccinations.”


Dr. Jahangir said 21% of cases in Nashville are among children under 18, and even though kids typically don’t get quite as ill, the Delta variant will spread the more kids are around each other – which is why kids need to be masked in school, he says.

He added that masks are most the effective resource we have for preventing the spread in kids. He said they're also looking at the possible long-term effects COVID has on children’s health.


Nashville offers the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines at its drive-thru vaccine clinic located at 2491 Murfreesboro Pike (the former Kmart), where they administer about 40-50 vaccines per-day. They’re also adding another tent able to serve people more quickly.