Unvaccinated Adults 65 and Older Are Almost 50 Times More Likely to Be Hospitalized with COVID

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New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that unvaccinated adults age 50 and over are much more likely to be hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 than their vaccinated peers.

Compared to those that received a third shot as a booster, unvaccinated individuals age 65 and older were 49 times more likely to be hospitalized after contracting COVID-19, while those aged 50 to 64 are 44 times more likely.

Unvaccinated individuals age 65 and older were 17 times more likely to be hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 than those that don't have a booster, but have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to data collected by the CDC in December. Those aged 50 to 64 were 17 times more likely to go to the hospital than their peers, as well.

In general, unvaccinated adults age 18 and older were 16 times more likely to be hospitalized than individuals of the same age who are fully vaccinated.

A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine and syringes sit prepared at a pop up vaccine clinic at the Jewish Community Center on April 16, 2021 in the Staten Island borough of New York City.
A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine and syringes sit prepared at a pop up vaccine clinic at the Jewish Community Center on April 16, 2021 in the Staten Island borough of New York City.

Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty

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About 64% of the U.S. population over the age of 5 have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine while 75.3% have received at least one dose, according to the CDC. All individuals over the age of 5 are eligible to receive two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

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The recent COVID-19 surge fueled by the omicron variant has put a strain on the healthcare system, with hospitals in 24 states nearing full capacity as of last week. That same week, hospitalizations for the coronavirus reached record highs across the nation, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

A healthcare Worker hands in surgical gloves pulling COVID-19 vaccine liquid from vial to vaccinate a patient
A healthcare Worker hands in surgical gloves pulling COVID-19 vaccine liquid from vial to vaccinate a patient

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Shortly after the outbreak, Moderna announced that a booster of its COVID-19 vaccine offered increased antibody levels "37-fold higher than pre-boost levels" against the omicron variant. Pfizer and BioNTech also said their vaccine would provide significant protection against the new strain.

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At the beginning of 2022, the CDC reduced the recommended wait time for a Pfizer-BioNTech booster from six months after receiving their first two doses to five. The CDC now recommends all individuals age 12 and up receive a COVID-19 booster shot should they be fully vaccinated.

Like unvaccinated adults ages 50 and up, the CDC said last week that unimmunized pregnant women were more likely to be hospitalized than their inoculated pregnant peers. These individuals, who made up 77% of the cases in pregnant women between December 2020 and October 2021, were also at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms and newborn deaths.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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