Vaccination against COVID-19 saved approximately 265,000 seniors from contracting the disease and 39,000 from death in early 2021, a new report finds.
Researchers at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) analyzed Medicare data and county-level vaccination rates, finding that more vaccinated counties saw fewer COVID-related health issues among seniors.
Counties with the highest vaccination rates saw about 450 fewer Covid cases per 100,000 seniors compared to possible case rates if vaccines were not available.
For counties with the lowest vaccination rates, this reduction was just 180 fewer cases for every 100,000 seniors.
The study shows the value of vaccination, especially for older adults and others who are more vulnerable to severe Covid cases.
But it's not enough for older adults to get vaccinated - younger adults need to get their shots, too, to protect the seniors in their community, the researchers said.
Covid vaccines protected thousands of cases and deaths among seniors in the first five months of 2021, a new HHS report found. Pictured: A Safeway pharmacist administers a booster shot a a clinic in San Rafael, California, October 2021
Counties with higher vaccination rates among both seniors and younger adults saw fewer Covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as the vaccine rollout continued
Throughout the Covid pandemic, seniors have been especially vulnerable to this novel disease.
The HHS estimates that about 80 percent of Covid deaths in 2020 occurred in seniors.
Covid's impact was particularly dire for seniors living in nursing homes and other congregate facilities.
Almost one in ten nursing home residents died of Covid in the first year of the pandemic, according to analysis by the COVID Tracking Project.
As a result, when Covid vaccines became available in the U.S., seniors were one of the first groups in line for shots - after nursing home residents and healthcare workers.
A new report from the HHS - published on Tuesday - shows how vaccination among seniors paid off, protecting this vulnerable population from Covid in 2021.
Researchers from the HHS's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation estimated the cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among seniors saved by vaccines.
Using individual-level Medicare claims data and county-level vaccination rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the researchers studied a cohort of 25 million seniors enrolled in Medicare.
They focused on the first five months of the vaccination rollout, from January 2021 to May 2021.
For seniors in the study, a 10 percent increase in a county's vaccination rate for older adults was associated with an 11 percent lower chance of a coronavirus infection.
'The fact that you were able to stop that many deaths and that many cases and hospitalizations even that