Unvaccinated LA residents were 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19: CDC study

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bolsters the argument that unvaccinated individuals are at a much higher risk of experiencing the worst outcomes of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals.

“These data indicate that authorized vaccines protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe COVID-19, even with increased community transmission of the newly predominant Delta variant,” the CDC report stated.

Between May 1 and July 25, 2021, unvaccinated residents of Los Angeles County, California, were 29.2 times more likely to be hospitalized by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, than their fully vaccinated counterparts. Those unvaccinated individuals also accounted for 71.4% of all infections during that time.

Unvaccinated people were more than 29 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID than fully vaccinated individuals. (Chart: CDC)
Unvaccinated LA residents studied were more than 29 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID than fully vaccinated individuals. (Chart: CDC)

About 51.6% of the American population is fully vaccinated. In California, about 55.1% of the population is fully vaccinated while 67.9% have received at least one dose.

“This really is a medical miracle that we were able to take the information that we’ve had over the past two decades and have all of our agencies working together to get us a vaccine in record time,” Dr. Adam Brown, Envision Healthcare’s COVID-19 national task force chair, said on Yahoo Finance Live recently. “But what’s important for folks to recognize is that the safety procedures, the clinical trials, the number of people who were tested with the vaccine, have been followed just like they have been with other types of medications.”

Vaccination has slowed despite scientific data showing that the vaccines make a significant difference in preventing serious illness and death. Unvaccinated individuals cited reasons including distrust of the FDA, concerns over side effects (stemming from misinformation), or personal liberties.

'The fact is that these vaccines are safe'

The FDA initially granted Pfizer (PFE), along with Moderna (MRNA) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), emergency use authorizations for their COVID-19 vaccines, meaning that they would allow the use "in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions when certain statutory criteria have been met, including that there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives."

The FDA granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine on Monday, and the new CDC study further corroborates the idea that the vaccines work.

“I understand there’s a lot of fear out there,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of information coming at people from multiple different sources about the vaccine, about the virus, about masks. The fact is that these vaccines are safe. And when you look at our hospitals, you look at the people who are sadly dying from COVID-19, they are primarily with a high percentage those who are unvaccinated.”

A woman holds an American flag and prays
A woman holds an American flag and prays "in tongues," or in an unknown language, according to the Pentecostal Christian belief, as anti-vaccination protesters gather near City Hall in Los Angeles, on Aug. 14, 2021. (Photo by DAVID MCNEW/AFP) (DAVID MCNEW via Getty Images)

The Pfizer vaccine is the only shot available for children under age 18, though those under the age of 12 still can't get it. That leaves millions of children still vulnerable to the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, and data has shown more children are being hospitalized now than at any other point during the pandemic.

The CDC study found that the unvaccinated individuals in LA County represented 85% of deaths, 86.9% of those admitted to intensive care units, and 87.3% of those who required mechanical ventilation to assist with their breathing.

The report also detailed the rise of the Delta variant. In May, the Alpha variant accounted for 55% of cases among the unvaccinated in Los Angeles County. By July, the Delta variant accounted for an overwhelming number of cases among the unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, and even fully vaccinated residents.

The Delta variant now accounts for a majority of COVID cases. (Chart: CDC)
The Delta variant now accounts for a majority of COVID cases. (Chart: CDC)

Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells and reach her at adriana@yahoofinance.com.


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