New HHS Report: COVID19 vaccinations led to ~350K fewer deaths & ~675K fewer hospitalizations among Medicare enrollees in 2021. #GetBoosted

HHS Dept.

via the Health & Human Services Dept:

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that the Biden Administration's historic vaccination program, which has gotten over 90 percent of seniors fully vaccinated and over 70 percent of seniors a booster shot, is linked to more than 650,000 fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations and more than 300,000 fewer deaths among seniors and other Americans enrolled in Medicare. The study, which was conducted by researchers with HHS's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), underscores the importance of Americans – particularly seniors and others at high-risk of serious outcomes – getting an updated COVID-19 vaccine this fall.

"This report reaffirms what we have said all along: COVID-19 vaccines save lives and prevent hospitalizations," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. "We now have updated COVID vaccines designed to protect you against the Omicron strain of COVID that makes up almost all COVID cases in the U.S. The Biden-Harris Administration has ensured that updated vaccines are available at tens of thousands of locations nationwide. Over 90 percent of Americans live within 5 miles of where they can access these vaccines for free. I urge everyone eligible to get an updated COVID vaccine to protect yourself ahead of the fall and winter."

Today's report reflects the benefits that the COVID-19 vaccines have had on our seniors and our economy. In addition to the reductions in severe COVID-19 health outcomes, reductions in COVID-19 hospitalizations were associated with savings of more than $16 billion in direct medical costs.

All racial and ethnic groups and all 50 states experienced reduced numbers of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations linked to vaccination, highlighting the importance of achieving high levels of vaccinations in the US to save lives.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) authorized, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) recommended the use of an updated COVID-19 vaccine designed for the Omicron variant most prevalent in the U.S. Following the FDA and CDC action, Secretary Becerra issued a directive - PDF to ensure the updated vaccines are widely available. The Biden-Harris Administration has outlined plan to get Americans an updated COVID-⁠19 vaccine shot this Fall.

Read the ASPE report on COVID-19 vaccination.

According to the report itself, the actual number of hospitalizations prevented by vaccinations in 2021 was between 670K - 680K (call it ~675K?), and the number of deaths prevented was between 330K - 370K (call it ~350K?), which means the HHS press release is understating how effective the COVID vaccines are:

This study updates ASPE’s previous analysis of the associations between COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths among Medicare beneficiaries and COVID-19 vaccination rates, with full year data through the end of 2021. The study uses a combination of person-level Medicare claims and county-level vaccination data to estimate reductions in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths among Medicare beneficiaries associated with COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021. We find that vaccines were associated with 670,000-680,000 fewer hospitalizations and 330,000-370,000 fewer deaths among Medicare beneficiaries in 2021, with the largest reductions during the summer Delta surge. This represents a 39–47 percent reduction in these outcomes. Reductions in hospitalization and deaths linked to vaccination rates occurred in all racial and ethnic groups and in all 50 states.

And remember, this only includes Medicare enrollees, around 85% of whom are over 65. Presumably there were many additional deaths prevented among those not on Medicare as well; roughly 75% of all U.S. COVID deaths are among senior citizens.

On the other hand, less than 20% of the total U.S. population is on Medicare (whether 65+ or not). On the other hand (that's 3 hands now), vaccination rates are much lower among those under 65 (~63% of the U.S. population under 65 has been 2-dose vaxxed vs. ~93% of U.S. seniors), making the math a bit tricky. Even so, I gotta figure the vaccines have also prevented perhaps another 100,000 deaths among non-Medicare enrollees nationally (?). And again, all of this was just in 2021...there've been an additional ~232,000 COVID deaths in 2022 so far, so I have to figure another ~50K+ deaths have been prevented by the vaccines this year as well.

In any event, get vaccinated, get boosted, and continue to wear a KN-95 mask when indoors at crowded public locations.