Majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients unvaccinated or immunocompromised, Mayo Clinic expert says

(WKBT) – Local COVID-related hospitalizations are rising.

The La Crosse County Health Department says hospitalizations in the Western region are up by 60 percent.

Dr. Andrew Badley from Mayo Clinic Health System in Rochester says most COVID patients at Mayo hospitals right now are either people who got the vaccine but are immunocompromised – or people who never got vaccinated.

At a media briefing Wednesday, Badley said getting vaccinated is still the best way to prevent serious illness.

He says he doesn’t know if every vaccinated person will need a booster shot yet, but added the concept isn’t new.

“We got booster shots for lots of different vaccines,” Badley said. “And the reason we do that is a natural part of immunity, in that the levels of immunity that are circulating in people tends to decline over time. And an additional shot, otherwise known as a booster, will automate that.”

Badley says a COVID booster shot would be needed about eight months after the second dose.

I also asked him when we’ll go back to life without the masking and distancing if we don’t reach herd immunity. He said it ultimately becomes a personal decision, but encourages people to practice good hygiene and get tested to prevent spread.

Gundersen Health System officials tell News 8 Now that 25 people are hospitalized there, and more will likely be admitted Wednesday night.