A new report shows COVID-19 vaccinations may have helped prevent roughly 5,100 new COVID-19 infections and 700 deaths among seniors in Georgia during the first five months of this year .
The study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), also found that vaccinations were linked to a reduction of about 265,000 COVID-19 infections nationally, 107,000 hospitalizations, and 39,000 deaths among Medicare beneficiaries between January and May 2021.
“This report reaffirms what we hear routinely from states: COVID-19 vaccines save lives, prevent hospitalizations, and reduce infection,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.
More than 352,000 lives were lost during the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the availability of vaccines, nearly 80% of these deaths were among people 65 and older who were also Medicare eligible.
Between January and May of this year, when vaccination rates grew from 1% to 47% among adults 18 to 64 and from 1% to 80% among seniors, the study found an 11% to 12% decrease in weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths among Medicare beneficiaries for every 10% increase in county vaccination rates.
All racial and ethnic groups in 48 states experienced reduced numbers of COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations, and infections linked to vaccination rate increases. Texas and Hawaii were excluded from the analysis due to data reporting limitations.
The study also found that vaccines were linked to a reduction of about 5,600 deaths among nursing home Medicare beneficiaries, a group that was disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Becerra issued a directive last month authorizing all COVID-19 vaccine providers to make available and administer Pfizer booster shots to seniors over age 65.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.