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Vaccines May Have Led to Prevention of 1/4 Million COVID Cases and Reduction of Deaths in Seniors

There is good news on the COVID19 vaccine front. Even as cases continue to increase around the country among the unvaccinated due to the highly contagious Delta variant, a new case study of vaccinations in seniors shows the effectiveness of both prevention and inoculations.

According to a report published Tuesday by the US Department of Health and Human Services, the vaccinations prevented at least a quarter of a million Covid-19 infections among seniors and tens of thousands of deaths just between January and May of this year. Seniors are now the most vaccinated demographic in the US. More than 94% of seniors now have gotten at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even in Alabama, where vaccine uptake is slow, seniors are the most vaccinated of any age group, according to the Alabama Public Health Department.

Seniors have been hit hard by the pandemic; nearly 80% of Covid-19 deaths have been among people 65 and older. These numbers show why public health leaders have been pushing so hard particularly to get older people vaccinated. The report from researchers at HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation found that vaccinations of Medicare beneficiaries were linked to a reduction in about 265,000 new Covid-19 infections, 107,000 hospitalizations, and 39,000 deaths in that time period.

The CDC also said people 65 and older who are fully vaccinated saw a 94% reduced risk of hospitalization. But when all adults had high vaccination rates in an area, not just seniors, protection was even better.

 

The positive impact the vaccines had were seen across all racial and ethnic groups and across all 48 states where research was available. HHS estimates there was a reduction of 29,000 infections and nearly 4,600 deaths among Black Medicare beneficiaries and a similar number among Hispanic beneficiaries. For people who identify as Asian, it was a reduction of 7,600 infections and 1,400 deaths.

Due to waning immunity, the CDC now recommends that people 65 and older get a booster at least six months after their primary series if they got the Pfizer-BioNTech shots. About 8% of people 65 and older already have. Vaccine advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are scheduled to discuss booster doses for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines later this month.

 

 



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