CDC: Unvaccinated 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced results from a study Friday that found unvaccinated individuals were 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people. 

The research, spanning more than 600,000 people in 13 jurisdictions, also determined that unvaccinated populations were over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized — figures that underscore COVID-19 vaccines protect recipients from deaths and hospitalizations.

The study also showed that unvaccinated people were 4 1/2 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than the fully vaccinated. 

The studies come just one day after President Biden announced a new rule that would require private companies with 100 employees or more to mandate vaccinations or frequent coronavirus testing.

The Biden administration as a whole has pushed for the use of vaccines as the best way to combat the pandemic. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Friday made the case for vaccines yet again, citing the study along with two others and stating that COVID-19 shots still work to protect recipients from the worst of the disease amid the rampant spread of the delta variant. 

“As we have shown study after study, vaccination works,” Walensky said during the briefing. “CDC will continue to do all we can do to increase vaccination rates across the country by working with local communities and trusted messengers and providing vaccine confidence consults to make sure that people have the information they need to make an informed decision.”

“The bottom line is this: We have the scientific tools we need to turn the corner on this pandemic,” Walensky said. “Vaccination works and will protect us from the severe complications of COVID-19. It will protect our children and allow them to stay in school for safe in-person learning.”

The agency and Biden administration are promoting the data behind the vaccine effectiveness in their bolstered push to get the unvaccinated shots.

The U.S. has made progress with vaccinations, reaching 75 percent of adults who have had at least one dose earlier this week.

But the portion of unvaccinated people continues to affect the U.S.’s trajectory in the pandemic, with the unvaccinated making up almost all of the growing hospitalizations and deaths.

The other two studies in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released Friday focused on the vaccine’s effectiveness against hospitalization.

One involving five Veterans Affairs Medical Centers found the mRNA vaccines’ overall effectiveness against hospitalization reached 86.8 percent.

Another similarly calculated that effectiveness at 86 percent among patients in emergency departments, urgent cares and hospitals across nine states. 

However, the studies also provided some evidence that the effectiveness of the vaccines are starting to wane among the older population, prompting the researchers to call for further investigation.

For the patients in emergency departments, urgent cares and hospitals across nine states, the effectiveness among those aged 75 and older was 76 percent, while among those aged 18 to 74, effectiveness reached 89 percent. 

But researchers urged caution, with the report saying “this moderate decline should be interpreted with caution and might be related to changes in SARS-CoV-2, waning of vaccine-induced immunity with increased time since vaccination, or a combination of factors.”

The study involving Veterans Affairs facilities determined that the mRNA vaccine effectiveness among those aged 65 and older was 79.8 percent, compared to 95.1 percent among those aged 18 to 64.

More than 82 percent of those aged 65 and older are considered fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Friday the administration is aiming to get “as close to 100 percent as possible” through expanded outreach.

“We know that every senior matters in terms of getting them vaccinated as a potential life saved,” he said, adding that booster vaccinations “will likely be helpful” for the older population. 

The Biden administration had announced it planned to start administering additional shots to recipients on Sept. 20 beginning eight months after their second shot.

But the plan led to criticism from some experts who said the administration was getting ahead of the review process at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), although officials say the strategy depends on FDA approval.

Tags CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Joe Biden Rochelle Walensky Vaccine vaccine effectiveness Vivek Murthy

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