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Drop in COVID among seniors boosts confidence in vaccine campaign: 'It’s absolutely working'

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 4/22/2021 David Hogberg
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Evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are working is bringing about hope that the pandemic will soon fade in the United States.

A Washington Examiner analysis of data from 14 states found that the rate of COVID-19 cases among those aged 65 and older, the group with the highest rates of vaccination, is dropping at a faster rate than younger age groups.

“The vaccine is working as intended,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director at the American Public Health Association. “There is no question that it is absolutely working.”

The 14 states included in the analysis were California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. The rates of COVID-19 were examined from just before the vaccination campaign began on Dec. 20 until early April. Combined, the rate of cases among seniors in those states dropped 86%, while it fell 71% for younger age groups.

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“The data is indicative that the high rates of vaccination among people above the age of 65 are beginning to show the benefits of vaccination,” said Susan Hassig, an epidemiology professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

If case rates are falling faster among a group that has higher levels of vaccination, it is an indication that the vaccines are combating the virus. Those aged 65 and over were one of the first groups targeted when the vaccination campaign began. To date, over 80% of those 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 65% have been fully vaccinated. By comparison, only 31% of the population under age 65 has received one dose, and 18% have been fully vaccinated.

Other targeted groups have also seen dramatic drops in cases. Nursing home residents and staff were among the groups targeted in the first vaccination phase. From December to March, cases in nursing homes dropped 96%, according to the industry group American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.

Not all states in the analysis followed the pattern of a larger decline in cases among seniors. In California, cases dropped 97% for those aged 65 and up and 95% for younger age groups.

Exactly why the Golden State doesn’t show the same pattern is unclear. One possibility is that California reached its peak during the winter surge a bit later than other states.

“That would have delayed California’s descent from the peak,” said Hassig. “The rates wouldn’t be different yet because they are collectively going down from that peak.”

Dr. Manoj Jain, an infectious disease physician at the Rollins School of Public Health, offered another explanation.

“Younger people in California could have been taking precautions to a level higher than most other places,” said Jain. “In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases have been rising nationwide, likely driven by the more transmissible United Kingdom variant."

Jain, though, says the experience of seniors offers hope.

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“If the young population [were vaccinated] the same, then we would be able to avoid a next wave of cases, which we are currently seeing in Michigan and some of the Northeast,” Jain said. “It is very reassuring that we can contain the pandemic, perhaps not completely but significantly enough that it will not disrupt our hospitals or a lot of the routine things we do.”

Tags: Healthcare, Coronavirus, Vaccination, Seniors, Senior citizens, Nursing Homes, California, Michigan, United Kingdom

Original Author: David Hogberg

Original Location: Drop in COVID among seniors boosts confidence in vaccine campaign: 'It’s absolutely working'

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