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HUS data missing vaccination status of one in four Covid patients

Teething problems with a new patient information system routine means that the vaccination status of a quarter of Covid patients in the capital region is unavailable.

More resources would be needed to ensure that the hospital's patient information system provides accurate information on the vaccination status of patients. Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

The Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district is currently unable to provide up-to-date information on the ratio of vaccinated to unvaccinated patients being treated for coronavirus infections.

On Wednesday, Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) Chief Physician Asko Järvinen told a press briefing that two-thirds of those being hospitialised with Covid are unvaccinated.

However, that information was based on 2021 data and a statistical sample taken in early January, and so does not provide an accurate picture of the current situation.

The lack of current data is due to a change, in early December, in the way vaccination status is entered into HUS's Apotti patient information system.

Previously, nursing staff wrote a medical report for each Covid patient noting vaccination status. This data was the compiled manually in a spreadsheet by the hospital's communications department, and published once a week.

It was decided to stop compiling the data manually and publishing it because manual entry was excessively labourious.

A quarter of data missing

Nursing staff must now enter the vaccination status of each patient directly into the patient information system by clicking in a multiple-choice column to register whether the patient has been vaccinated or not, and how many vaccinations have been received.

However, not all personnel have adapted to the new routine. Currently, about a quarter of Covid patients have vaccine status data missing from the system.

"The staff should not be blamed, as they have their hands full of work," says HUS's Heart and Lung Centre Senior Chief Physician Antti Vento.

HUS says that right now an accurate count would require doctors look up information in patient records by hand.

Yle requested up-to-date information on patients' vaccination status, but physicians did not have time to review patient data to provide an answer. However, Yle did receive fresh daily figures on Thursday from the Heart and Lung Centre's Chief Physician Antti Vento.

"Currently, 53 percent of patients in the lung ward are unvaccinated, 6 percent have received one vaccination, and 38 percent have received two vaccinations. Three percent of patients have received three vaccinations," Vento reported.

Slight rise in vaccinated patients

Based on daily figures, the proportion of those vaccinated has started to increase slightly, not only in intensive care, but also in wards.

"In any case, this does not mean that the vaccines do not work. The vaccine provides very good protection against serious forms of the disease, says Vento.

Doctors at HUS say the proportion of unvaccinated people who are likely to be hospitalized will rise, as the coronavirus is increasingly being found in those who are being treated for other illnesses. In the future, more and more vaccinated people are also likely to become ill due to their age or underlying disease.

Vento points out that if vaccines had not been available at all, there would have been many more patients in hospital.

"Without vaccines, we would be in big trouble," says HUS Physician Antti Vento.