In April 2022, COVID-related deaths appeared to have turned around to occur mostly among vaccinated people. In April, only 41% of deaths were among unvaccinated people, while 23% were people who received their primary vaccination and 36% were vaccinated and had received an early form of booster. These trends continued in data analyzed by the Kaiser Family Foundation through August, which was the last month of data available.
In Ohio, there were approximately 27,307 COVID-19 related deaths between Jan. 1, 2021 and Dec. 29, 2022, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Of these deaths, 25,854 were among people not reported as fully vaccinated and 1,453 among fully vaccinated people.
There have also been 89,624 COVID hospitalizations in Ohio between January 2021 and today, including 83,393 among those not fully vaccinated and 6,231 among those fully vaccinated, according to the ODH.
One reason vaccinated people now account for more COVID-19-related deaths is that they now make up the majority of the population, at 79%, the Kaiser Family Foundation said. Moreover, no vaccine is 100% effective, and the immunity offered by the primary series when they first became available in spring 2021 has diminished due to the new variants in circulation.
For some, the last time they received a COVID vaccine was over a year ago. Updated booster shots (bivalent) became widely available in September, and uptake of these vaccinations has been slow nationally and statewide. About 14.6% of people over the age of five received a dose of the updated booster, according to the CDC. The new booster shots more directly target strains of COVID that are currently circulating.
Thomas said research has shown that one of the main reasons for the slow uptake of new reminders has to do with a lower perception of risk.
“They don’t see the point of getting the COVID shot,” Thomas said.
As doctors have more treatment options available to help treat patients with COVID, public health experts say now is not the time to fall behind. They say it’s still important to follow steps like vaccinations and booster shots to provide extra protection.
“Unfortunately, we are still seeing over 2,500 people die each week (nationally from COVID-19),” Thomas said. “We are not done with the pandemic.”
Thomas said people vaccinated with the updated booster are 18 times less likely to die from the virus and three times less likely to test positive. Additional research shows that bivalent boosters also help reduce the risk of hospitalizations, she said.
“Keeping up to date with these vaccines should be a priority,” Thomas said.
The Clark County Combined Health District said residents’ use of the new booster shots is in line with state and national trends, but a steady stream of individuals are still taking advantage of the vaccination clinics they run four five times a week.
“We want to make them available as much as possible,” said Nate Smith, communications coordinator with the health district. “We continue to look for ways to educate and inform our residents.”
There are also growing concerns for potential future variants. Thomas said public health is monitoring what is happening with China easing its COVID restrictions and reversing its zero-COVID policy.
“The virus is spreading fast,” Thomas said. “With each new infection, the virus has a chance to mutate.”
Due to the increase in COVID cases in China, new COVID tests for travelers are imposed. The CDC announced this week that it would implement a requirement for a negative COVID-19 test or recovery documentation for air passengers boarding flights to the United States from China, Hong Kong and the United States. Macau.
The CDC said the step was aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the United States during the outbreak in China, saying there was a lack of adequate and transparent viral epidemiological and genomic data reported in China. These data are essential to effectively monitor the increase in cases and reduce the chances of entry of a new variant of concern, the CDC said.
To find vaccines near you, visit www.vaccines.gov.