Seniors fully vaccinated by COVID-19 shots from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna were 94% less likely to land in the hospital from the virus than people over age 65 who were not immunized, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
The agency said people who were “partially vaccinated” were 64% less likely to be hospitalized.
The controlled study looked at more than 400 participants in 14 states and adds real-world evidence to the positive readouts from clinical trials of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Both versions use a messenger-RNA platform and remain the predominant options in the U.S.
“These findings are encouraging and welcome news for the two-thirds of people aged 65 and up who are already fully vaccinated,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. “COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective and these real-world findings confirm the benefits seen in clinical trials, preventing hospitalizations among those most vulnerable.”
The mRNA technology consists of a snippet of genetic code that’s encapsulated in lipids and instructs the body to make impostors of the coronavirus’ spike protein, so the body knows how to fight the real thing.
Eight in 10 Americans over age 65 have received at least one dose of any vaccine and 68% are fully vaccinated, according to federal data.
Seniors are far more likely to have received an mRNA vaccine than the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was approved months after the other vaccines and faced production issues and a safety pause amid a rollout that prioritized seniors before younger persons.
Dr. Walensky said the results are good news for communities and hospitals that will be able to maintain plenty of bed space for other conditions.
While the study focused on seniors, officials are pleading with all Americans 16 and older to get vaccinated to produce widespread immunity. Early data suggest the vaccines can slash transmission in addition to protecting people from serious disease.
The CDC study found no impact from the vaccines fewer than 14 days from the first shot, underscoring the need to wait for an immune response to build.
Agency scientists noted results from Israel that showed similar findings on seniors and hospitalization, but they only included Pfizer.
The U.S. study includes the Moderna version, too.
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