COVID 19 Update: Unvaccinated Americans More Likely to be Hospitalized and Die from Complications, CDC Data Shows
September 20, 2021
According to one of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) most recent investigations, unvaccinated Americans are 4.5 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals. In addition, the CDC’s report found that unvaccinated individuals are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die from severe COVID complications. These figures highlight the importance of being vaccinated against the deadly virus, which has infected over 41 million Americans and claimed the lives of approximately 670,000 in less than two years.
Federal health officials released the studies, which took into account more than 600,000 cases across the country, right after the President announced updated vaccination guidelines for citizens. The President’s new mandate requires federal workers and private employees at companies with workforces that employ more than 100 staff members to be fully vaccinated or to undergo regular testing. President Biden’s move should not come as too big a surprise: over the last few months, the U.S. has fallen behind other countries in respect to vaccination numbers. For example, only 54% of Americans are fully vaccinated, whereas in Britain the rate is 65% and in Canada, 69%. As a consequence, American travelers are now barred from entering certain countries for non-essential travel (Sweden); in others, even fully vaccinated individuals must follow strict isolation guidelines after arriving to their international destinations.
To date, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized three COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use: the Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen (or Johnson & Johnson). Just last month, the agency granted full approval to Comirnaty, which contains the same formulation as the Pfizer-BioNTech, for prevention of the COVID-19 virus in individuals 16-years-old and older. Even in the face of the sweeping Delta variant, which is far more transmissible than other strains, the FDA-approved vaccinations have proven to be extremely effective at reducing hospitalization and fatality rates. While fully vaccinated individuals can still contract the virus (though they are significantly less likely to get infected than people who are unvaccinated), vaccines help a person’s immune systems fight off an infection more quickly and efficiently. This response also trains a person’s immune system on how to recognize and fight against the virus in case the person ever falls ill from the same bug again.
Symptoms of the COVID-19 virus vary greatly among individuals. Some people experience no symptoms, while others become so ill that they require hospitalization and eventually lose their ability to breathe on their own. According to the CDC, people who have COVID may experience fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. There are certain emergency warning signs related to COVID, too, such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake up or to stay awake, and pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds (depending on a person’s skin tone). If a person is experiencing emergency warning signs, call 9-1-1 or emergency medical care center right away.
The Mayo Clinic reports that certain individuals face higher chances of experiencing severe, life-threatening complications, such as:
- Older people. In the U.S., approximately 80% of deaths from COVID-19 have been in people age 65 and above. Older people with certain health conditions face particularly high risks for severe illness
- Lung problems, including asthma. Because COVID affects a person’s lungs, individuals with lung conditions like lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and moderate to severe asthma are especially prone to developing severe symptoms
- People with cancer and certain blood disorders, like sickle cell anemia and thalassemia
- Diabetes and obesity are both risk factors for experiencing significant COVID-19 symptoms
- Individuals with heart conditions such as pulmonary hypertension, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, and heart failure
- Chronic kidney or liver disease, which weaken a person’s immune system
- People with Down syndrome. Individuals with Down syndrome are vulnerable to lung infections, which renders them at greater risk for severe complications from COVID
- People with weakened immune systems. Conditions and treatments like cancer treatment, organ transplant, HIV/AIDS, bone marrow transplant, and long-term use of prednisone or a similar drug can weaken a person’s immune system and make it more difficult to fight off disease-causing germs
The virus does not only target high-risk individuals. Even lower risk individuals have contracted COVID and died from complications. So far, providers around the country have administered more than 380 million doses of the COVID vaccine. The vaccines are not only effective, but they are also safe. All four vaccines have met the FDA’s stringent health and safety requirements and agencies continue to monitor them each day. If you would like to learn more about getting vaccinated, contact your healthcare provider and discuss not only how you can protect yourself and your loved ones, but also how you can help to protect your community.
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