By Charles Kim
Although the three available vaccines for COVID-19 remain effective in preventing serious illness or death, that effectiveness seems to be waning faster for older adults, aged 75 or older, new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies found.
The three new studies, released Friday, show that while there are many more unvaccinated people in hospitals with the virus, especially the Delta strain, older, fully vaccinated people see a vaccine effectiveness of 76% compared to 89% effectiveness for those 18-74, according to one of the three studies.
The studies also showed that those hospitalized that were fully vaccinated were infected between 3-4 months after the vaccine took full effect.
One study looked at 32,867 medical encounters from 187 hospitals and 221 emergency departments and urgent care clinics across nine states from June through August.
The cases studied were those that were tested within 72 hours and received a COVID-type discharge diagnosis.
Among the fully vaccinated cases in the survey, an average 54% had the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, 39% had the two-dose Moderna vaccine, and 8% the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Of the 14,636 patients, 18.9% of the 6,960 unvaccinated patients were infected compared to just 3.1% of the 7,676 fully vaccinated patients, according to the study.
The study showed the overall effectiveness of the vaccines for all patients at 86% against hospitalization, but that percentage dropped to 76% among fully vaccinated patients aged 75 or older.
The study also found similar results among all three of the vaccines in that age group, with a 95% effectiveness for Moderna, 80% among Pfizer, and 60% among Johnson & Johnson.
“This moderate decline should be interpreted with caution and might be related to changes in SARS-CoV-2, waning of vaccine-induced immunity with increased time since vaccination, or a combination of factors,” the study said, adding that further study of these differences is warranted.
President Joe Biden earlier this week released his six-part plan to stem the spread of COVID-19, including vaccine mandates for all federal workers.
“Even as the Delta variant 19 [sic] has — COVID-19 — has been hitting this country hard, we have the tools to combat the virus, if we can come together as a country and use those tools,” Biden said in a televised address Sept. 9. “If we raise our vaccination rate, protect ourselves and others with masking and expanded testing, and identify people who are infected, we can and we will turn the tide on COVID-19.”
The president also announced that he was using an Occupational Safety and Health law to mandate that private companies with 100 or more employees require vaccinations or weekly negative COVID tests of its workers.
Companies that violate his executive order face a more than $14,000 fine per violation.
He also continued to stress the importance for the approximately 80 million unvaccinated people to get the shot.
“It will take a lot of hard work, and it’s going to take some time. Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free,” he said.