Marla Moss receives the COVID-19 vaccine at the Kent County Health Department.
COVID-19 vaccinations in Michigan may have helped prevent about 8,500 seniors from contracting the virus, 1,400 from dying and 3,900 from being hospitalized during spring 2021, according to a medical study published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Monday.
The report studied the associations between COVID-19 statistics among all 62.7 million Medicare beneficiaries and county-level vaccination levels between January and May — the first five months of the country’s vaccination roll-out.
As of Monday, a total of 1,039,337 Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19 and 21,139 have died from the virus throughout the state.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), approximately 58% of Michigan’s residents 12 years and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Around 62.5% of residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
A DHHS spokesperson did not immediately provide a request for comment.
The new national study was conducted by researchers with the HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE).
“Our results indicate that COVID-19 vaccinations from January until May 2021 were associated with an estimated reduction of more than 265,000 COVID-19 infections and nearly 39,000 deaths among Medicare beneficiaries” nationally, the study concludes, along with a reduction of about 107,000 hospitalizations.
Vaccinations also likely prevented about 5,600 deaths nationally among nursing home Medicare beneficiaries, who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
“This report reaffirms what we hear routinely from states: COVID-19 vaccines save lives, prevent hospitalizations, and reduce infection,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “The [President Joe] Biden-[Vice President Kamala] Harris Administration has prioritized getting vaccines quickly to pharmacies, nursing homes, doctors’ offices and even provided increased reimbursement rates for at-home COVID-19 vaccinations, so that seniors and others can easily get vaccinated.”
HHS notes that before COVID-19 vaccines were available, nearly 80% of deaths during the first nine months of the pandemic were among Medicare-eligible Americans ages 65 and older.
As vaccination rates grew from January to May, the new report found a decrease of 11% to 12% in weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths (among Medicare beneficiaries) for every 10% increase in county vaccination rates across the country.
The largest vaccination-related percentage reduction in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths was among American Indian and Alaska Native Medicare beneficiaries, although all racial and ethnic groups overall experienced reduced COVID-19 rates across all 48 of the states analyzed.
Texas and Hawaii were excluded from the study due to insufficient data reporting.
A recently issued directive from Becerra authorizes CDC vaccine program providers to administer Pfizer booster doses to everyone eligible starting Sept. 25, including seniors over age 65.
All COVID-19 vaccines, including the authorized booster, will be covered without cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries.
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