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'The emergency departments and hospitals are very, very full' | Hospitals see increase of young, unvaccinated COVID-19 patients

Every single person between the ages of 30-39 who's in the hospital battling COVID-19 is unvaccinated according to IDPH data from last week.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Doctors in the Des Moines metro say the industry is stretched thin. 

"The emergency departments and hospitals are very, very full," said Broadlawns Medical Center Chief Physician Quality Officer, Dr. Nicole Gilg. "We do not have any more room, it will likely be a long wait, if you need care."

"The shortage on different types of staff, nurses, respiratory therapists, even pharmacists are actually making the care of these patients a little more difficult," added UnityPoint Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Leyla Best. 

Doctors say what's adding to this stressed health system is an increase of unvaccinated young adult COVID-19 patients. 

According to the most recent data from the Iowa Department of Public Health, every single person aged 30-39 who's in the hospital with COVID-19 is unvaccinated. For those under the age of 50 hospitalized with COVID-19, 93% are unvaccinated.

"So that means the vaccines do work," said Dr. Best. "The vaccines are effective to prevent severe disease and even hospitalization."

Doctors also say COVID-19 impacts the younger population differently than other infectious diseases.

"We've seen that the comorbidities, even diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac conditions, are putting younger populations at much higher risk for complications from COVID-19 such as being hospitalized ending up in the ICU," said Dr. Gilg. 

Unvaccinated patients also make up the majority of older hospitalized patients. While there are slightly more breakthrough cases, doctors say that's to be expected. 

"Your immune system as you age tends not to be as strong," said Dr. Gilg. "And so it's not uncommon for infectious diseases that patients that are older are going to be more vulnerable and be more susceptible."

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