(Trends Wide) — Vaccines have prevented at least a quarter of a million COVID-19 infections among older people and tens of thousands of deaths between January and May of this year alone, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services. of the United States (HHS).
The report, prepared by researchers from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation of the HHS, reveals that the vaccination of Medicare beneficiaries is related to the reduction of some 265,000 new infections by covid-19, 107,000 hospitalizations and 39,000 deaths in that period of time.
Older people are the most vaccinated demographic in the United States. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 94% of older people have received at least one dose of the covid-19 vaccine. Even in states like Alabama, where uptake of the vaccine has been slow, the oldest are the most vaccinated of all age groups.
Older people have been particularly affected by the pandemic. Almost 80% of COVID-19 deaths have occurred among people 65 years of age or older. But previous studies have shown that vaccines work. Fully vaccinated people in this age group had their risk of hospitalization reduced by 94%.
Fall in infections and deaths in 48 states
Looking at county-level data in 48 states – the researchers had to exclude data from Texas and Hawaii due to reporting limitations – there was an 11-12% decline in weekly hospitalizations and deaths for every 10% increase in vaccination rates in each county between January and May, HHS said. When all adults had high vaccination rates in an area, and not just high rates among the elderly, protection was even greater.
The positive impact of vaccines was seen across all racial and ethnic groups and in the 48 states where research was available. HHS estimates 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, the vaccines prevented 7,600 infections and 1,400 deaths.
Vaccines made the biggest difference in preventing deaths and hospitalizations among the Alaska Native and American Indian communities, the report said, with an estimated 21% reduction in infections, compared to 18% among the white population. , and a 25% reduction in the number of deaths among Alaska Natives and American Indians, compared to 22% among whites.
“Vaccines against covid-19 save lives”
“This report reaffirms what we routinely hear from state governments: Covid-19 vaccines save lives, prevent hospitalizations and reduce infections,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Biden-Harris administration has made it a priority to get vaccines quickly to pharmacies, nursing homes and doctors’ offices, and has even increased reimbursement rates for covid-19 vaccines at home, so that the elderly and other people can easily get vaccinated. “
Due to decreased immunity, the CDC now recommends that people 65 and older receive a booster at least six months after their primary inoculation if they were vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech. About 8% of people 65 and older have already done so.
Vaccine advisers from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are scheduled to discuss booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines later this month.