Younger Americans have benefited less from booster shots than older people

Unvaccinated people in any age group are at higher risk of infection, hospitalization and death than those who have been immunized, according to data from the CDC — an ongoing trend since the introduction of vaccines.

As of December 25, the number of hospital admissions among unvaccinated adults over 65 years of age was 246 per 100,000 people. That rate dropped to 27.4 per 100,000 in people who were vaccinated without a booster dose, and to 4.9 in those who were vaccinated and given a booster.

There were about 44 deaths per 100,000 unvaccinated adults age 65 and older. Vaccinations dropped that number to about 3.6 deaths per 100,000, a twelfth as much. Booster shots further reduced the number, to about 0.5 deaths per 100,000, a figure 90 times smaller.

But such risk comparisons were less useful in younger people, for whom the number of serious outcomes was already low.


February 4, 2022, 3:33 PM ET

Of the adults 50 to 64, 73 unvaccinated adults per 100,000 were hospitalized, compared with nine per 100,000 among those who had been vaccinated and only two per 100,000 among those who also received a booster shot.

Boosters made less of a difference in the number of Covid deaths in this age group. Vaccinations reduced the rate to 0.4 deaths per 100,000 from 8.26 per 100,000. With boosters, that number dropped to 0.1 deaths per 100,000 people.

“This is the difference between a relative risk reduction and an absolute risk reduction,” said Dr. gounder. “If you start with a relatively low risk, and you reduce that risk further, then in the grand scheme of things, that might not be that big of an impact.”

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