Throughout August, the risk of dying from Covid-19 was 11 times higher for unvaccinated adults than for fully vaccinated adults in the United States, according to new data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Unvaccinated adults faced a six times higher risk of testing positive for Covid-19 throughout the month, and In the last week of August, the risk of being hospitalized was nearly 19 times higher for unvaccinated adults than fully vaccinated adults.
Some states and local jurisdictions have recently started publishing Covid-19 case, death and hospitalization rates by vaccination status on their own dashboards, and the CDC has been working with health departments to link case surveillance data with immunization information systems for their own analysis.
While the CDC analysis is not fully comprehensive, the data published late Thursday is the first federal look at Covid-19 risks by vaccination status made publicly available with plans for regular updates.
Case data by vaccination status is available from 14 states in all regions of the United States, as well as New York City and Seattle’s King County, representing about 30% of the total US population. Death data is available from all but one of those jurisdictions, and hospitalization data is from a different set of 13 states.
The CDC data shows that the risk of death from Covid-19 for unvaccinated adults has dipped in recent weeks as the pace of new cases drops across the country. By the last week of August, Covid-19 death rates among unvaccinated adults were about 30% lower than they were in the first week of the month, dropping from an incidence rate of 13 deaths per 100,000 people to about 9 deaths per 100,000 people.
But since April, the risk for fully vaccinated adults has never been higher than 1.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
Last week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky noted that there are still pockets of unvaccinated people in the US who are not protected against the virus.
“The virus isn’t stupid,” she said. “It’s going to go there.”
While the risk of cases and deaths have dropped, the CDC data also shows that the rate of hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults has continued to climb, up more than 80% from the first week in August to the last.
Risk ratios vary by age group. For example, the rate of Covid-19 hospitalizations among adults under the age of 50 is about 15 times higher for unvaccinated people than for fully vaccinated people. For those age 50 to 64, the hospitalization rate is 31 times higher for unvaccinated people, and for those age 65 and older, the hospitalization rate is 16 times higher for unvaccinated people.
“Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 reduces the risk of getting COVID-19 and helps protect you from severe illness even if you do get COVID-19,” according to the CDC. The agency is leading studies to continue to monitor vaccine effectiveness and breakthrough cases over time.
A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis from Wednesday estimates that there were more than 90,000 preventable Covid-19 deaths among unvaccinated adults over the past three months, with more than half of them occurring in September alone.
After falling to the seventh leading cause of death in July, Covid-19 surged back to the second leading cause of death in September, according to KFF. Only heart disease killed more people than Covid-19 in the US in September, and Covid-19 was the top cause of death for adults age 35 to 54 in both August and September.
“With the rapid uptake in vaccinations in the months when vaccines first became widely available, COVID-19 deaths fell sharply,” according to KFF. “However, with the more infectious COVID-19 Delta variant, insufficient vaccination rates, and local and state governments easing up social distancing restrictions, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths increased again.”
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