Seniors died from COVID-19 at a higher rate than any other age group this summer: analysis

FILE – A pharmacist injects a patient with a booster dosage of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic in Lawrence, Mass., on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. U.S. regulators have authorized updated COVID-19 boosters, the first to directly target today’s most common omicron strain. The move on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2022, by the Food and Drug Administration tweaks the recipe of shots made by Pfizer and rival Moderna that already have saved millions of lives. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

More seniors than any other age group died from COVID-19 this past summer amid a disease surge fueled by new subvariants, according to a new analysis published Thursday from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The foundation analyzed COVID-19 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and found that death rates rose much faster for Americans older than 65, despite widespread vaccine coverage within the group.

Between April and July 2022, the number of coronavirus-related deaths among seniors grew at a faster rate for older adults, topping 11,000 in July and August. While deaths totals rose for those under 65 as well, the total was about five to six times smaller for younger Americans.

In April of this year, 1,306 Americans under the age of 65 died from COVID-19, according to CDC data. The monthly total for this demographic has officially dipped below that number as of September.

Two thousand more people older than 65 died as a result of COVID-19 in September than in April. However, this number still represented a drop of about 4,500 deaths from the month of August.

The share of COVID-19 deaths within the older than 65 age group has risen since the beginning of this year, from 24 percent in January to 40 percent in September.

The organization pointed to this data as an indication of the importance of continued vaccination against the coronavirus. Primary vaccination among seniors was particularly high — 95 percent — but enthusiasm for subsequent boosters has waned.

Less than 50 percent of people over 65 have gotten their second boosters, and it remains unclear how many people will be getting the recently approved bivalent, omicron-specific booster.

A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis released earlier this year estimated that a quarter of COVID-19 deaths seen since the start of the pandemic could have been prevented by vaccines.

A more recent projection released this week by the Commonwealth Fund estimated that between 75,000 and 90,000 deaths could be prevented by the updated bivalent boosters if an accelerated vaccination campaign was carried out beginning this month.

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