Fed report looks at vaccine impacts on deaths, hospitalizations


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BOSTON (SHNS) – The COVID-19 vaccine may have helped prevent hundreds of deaths and thousands of infections among Massachusetts seniors in a five-month span, federal health officials said Tuesday.

In a new report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projected that the immunization may have shielded 900 Bay Staters who are enrolled in Medicare from death, prevented another 2,500 from hospitalization and helped 6,000 avoid contracting the highly infectious virus between January and May.

Nationally, researchers estimated that the vaccine rollout was linked to the prevention of 265,000 infections, 107,000 hospitalizations and 39,000 deaths among Medicare beneficiaries during the first five months of 2021. Older adults were one of the most vulnerable groups to COVID-19’s impact, representing a large share of the deaths during the pandemic.

Before the vaccine rollout began late last year, nearly 80 percent of the individuals who died from COVID-19 were 65 and older and eligible for Medicare, according to HHS. People aged 65 years old and above who received the Pfizer vaccine are now eligible for Pfizer booster shots.

“This report reaffirms what we hear routinely from states: COVID-19 vaccines save lives, prevent hospitalizations, and reduce infection,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized getting vaccines quickly to pharmacies, nursing homes, doctors’ offices and even provided increased reimbursement rates for at-home COVID-19 vaccinations, so that seniors and others can easily get vaccinated.”

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