CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Close to 8.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given in North Carolina and 40% of the total population is fully vaccinated.
Taking a closer look at the data, 78% of North Carolinians 65 or older are fully vaccinated, While 50% of people 18 and older are fully vaccinated.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said these trends are reflected in hospitalizations too.
And despite these vaccination rates, doctors are stressing the pandemic is not over yet.
The numbers are significantly lower than they have been, but people are still being hospitalized with COVID-19. And doctors say for the most part, those patients are younger and unvaccinated.
We've turned another corner in the pandemic
"All of the hospitals within Novant Health are down to single digits in terms of inpatients with COVID-19 except Forsyth Medical Center," Dr. David Priest with Novant Health said.
Less COVID-19 is spreading in the community, and experts say its because of the vaccines. But millions of people are still putting off getting the shot, and Priest says that's who is more likely to end up in the hospital.
"Invariably the people being admitted to the hospital have not been vaccinated," Priest said. "Well over 95% of the admissions have not been vaccinated."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging adolescents and young adults to get vaccinated, reporting that in March and April, hospitalization rates among 12 to 17 year old's went up, while they stabilized for people 65 and older.
Locally, the COVID-19 patients doctors are seeing keep getting younger.
"Because they're younger, we have fewer people that have to be on ventilators, which is great but we just think if you had been vaccinated you wouldn't be here at all so that's what we're having to work through," Priest said.
Data shows men are not being vaccinated as quickly. And vaccine providers are still focused on making getting the shots more convenient, meeting people where they already are with mobile clinics.
"If you think to yourself well the pandemic is about over, do I really need to be vaccinated? Just remember additional threats remain with these variants," Priest said.
Priest also said the only person he's seen hospitalized with COVID-19 who had been vaccinated just got an organ transplant, so their immune system was really weakened and despite being really careful, still got COVID-19.
A good reminder that getting vaccinated can also help protect those who are more vulnerable.