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Do COVID Vaccines Prevent Hospitalizations?

September 7, 2021

Written by Jonathan Brewer

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The short answer is YES. Full vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 virus was highly effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations (87.1% effective). Vaccine efficacy was lower for immunocompromised patients (62.9% effective), and breakthrough infections were more common in patients who were older and immunocompromised.

Why does this matter?
COVID-19 vaccination has become a very polarizing topic within the United States. The benefits of vaccination seem clear, but some individuals are still hesitant to give vaccination a shot (pun intended). However, with COVID-19 cases surging again in the United States, it is more important than ever to examine the evidence for vaccination and whether there is a meaningful impact on hospitalization, morbidity, and mortality.

Vaccines Save Lives
This study consisted of a multicenter (18 sites), case-control analysis of US adults that were hospitalized from March 11th ā€“ May 5th, 2021. Within this study, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines (note, not the Johnson and Johnson vaccine) were evaluated to determine their effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations. Among the 1,212 participants, including 593 cases (hospitalized with COVID-19) and 619 controls (those who tested negative for SARS-CoV-2), full vaccination occurred in 8.2% of cases and 36.4% of controls. The overall effectiveness of the vaccine for preventing hospitalization was 87.1% (95% CI: 80.7 ā€“ 91.3%). The results were similar for both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines (84.4% vs 90.1%).

Efficacy was highest in adults aged 18-49 years (97.4%) and in adults who were not immunosuppressed (91.3%). Vaccine efficacy was significantly lower among patients with immunosuppression (62.9%). Among the 45 patients with vaccine-breakthrough COVID hospitalizations, 44 (97.8%) were ā‰„ 50 years old and 20 (44.4%) were immunosuppressed.

What I take from this study is that vaccination works and is effective in significantly decreasing the risk of severe disease and COVID-19 related hospitalization. Widespread vaccination could prevent our hospital resources from becoming overwhelmed and can save lives, so Iā€™m going to continue recommending the vaccine to everyone that I can.

Effectiveness of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccines for Preventing Covid-19 Hospitalizations in the United States. Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Aug 6;ciab687. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciab687. Online ahead of print.

Edited and Peer-Reviewed by Sam Parnell

Note: This data was collected before the Delta variant was dominant. Vaccination remains effective in reducing hospitalization from the Delta variant as well. ~Clay Smith

What are your thoughts?