Federal Study Says Vaccinations Reduced COVID Count in West Virginia Seniors | News, Sports, Jobs
CHARLESTON – COVID-19 vaccinations have been linked to a reduction in deaths, hospitalizations and infections among seniors in West Virginia, according to a study released this week by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The report confirms what state officials have been saying for months, that vaccinations can prevent infections and save lives.
“Say for more like for 570 days,” said James Hoyer, director of the state’s interagency vaccine working group.
The report, “Associations between county-level vaccination rates and COVID-19 outcomes among Medicare beneficiaries”, said vaccinations helped prevent 1,400 cases of COVID, 600 hospitalizations and 200 deaths among West Virginia seniors from January through May,
The study conducted by researchers with the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation found that vaccinations across America have reduced an estimated 265,000 infections, 107,000 hospitalizations and 39,000 deaths among Medicare beneficiaries between January and May.
The aggressiveness of the vaccination strategy in West Virginia is working, as the report confirms that the strategy of vaccinating older residents as soon as vaccines became available was the right strategy to adopt, Hoyer said.
Despite the reluctance of some to be vaccinated, the state’s goal is to “Persevere with the plan” encourage and vaccinate as many residents as possible, Hoyer said. Governor Jim Justice and coronavirus adviser Dr Clay Marsh have said vaccinations are the best way to prevent the virus from spreading and mutating, Hoyer said.
“The only thing we can say … is to get vaccinated”, Hoyer said. “It’s so simple.”
But it has been difficult because of the misinformation, he said.
“People are bombarded with so many BS on the internet, social media” Hoyer said.
Nationally, more than 352,000 lives were lost in the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report. Before vaccines became available, about 80 percent of deaths were in people 65 and older who were also eligible for Medicare.
An 11-12% decrease in weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths among Medicare beneficiaries has occurred for every 10% increase in county vaccination rates from January to May, when vaccination rates are increased from 1% to 47% among those 18 to 64 and from 1 percent to 80 percent among the elderly, according to the study
With the exception of Texas and Hawaii due to reporting limitations, racial and ethnic groups in 48 states have reduced deaths, hospitalizations and infections from COVID-19 that were linked to the increased rate of vaccination. The largest drops in infections, hospitalizations and deaths were among Native American and Alaskan Medicare beneficiaries.
The vaccines were also linked to a reduction of 5,600 deaths among nursing home health insurance beneficiaries, according to the study. It found that high immunization rates for all adults were even more protective for Medicare beneficiaries than a simple high immunization rate among the elderly, showing that vaccines protect communities by reducing infections, deaths and hospitalizations, according to the study.
As of Wednesday, 91% of residents 65 and older in West Virginia have received at least one injection and 80.7% are fully immunized. For the vaccine-eligible population aged 12 and over, 57.1 percent are fully immunized.
Protection against the virus wanes after about six months.
West Virginia immediately acted under the health and human services directive allowing providers to give Pfizer vaccine boosters to all eligible people, Hoyer said. The state is awaiting federal approval for the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson boosters to begin delivering these doses, he said.
“We hope to be able to start doing this by the end of October at the latest”, he said.
The state is also awaiting its order for antibody treatments to help those infected, but 70% of antibody supplies “Were sucked in by seven southern states” who did not have an aggressive vaccination schedule, Hoyer said.
Jess Mancini can be contacted at [email protected]
The report is available at https://tinyurl.com/tr853dpz.