Aug 24, 2021 - Health

Unvaccinated 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, CDC study says

Nurses reposition a patient in the ICU
Nurses reposition a COVID patient in the ICU in Torrance, Calif. Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Infection and hospitalization rates in late July were five and 29 times higher, respectively, among unvaccinated people in Los Angeles County than the fully vaccinated, according to a new report out Tuesday from the CDC.

Why it matters: Hospitals and state health officials have been warning that the spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations is mostly attributed to unvaccinated adults.

The big picture: Still, the data, which shows one-fourth of Los Angeles infections were among the vaccinated, coincides with another CDC report out Tuesday that also shows the waning vaccine effectiveness against the Delta variant.

  • The CDC looked at a cohort of front-line health care workers and determined that vaccine effectiveness had gone down to 66%, independent of time since vaccination.
  • Last week, the agency released initial reports on vaccine effectiveness including one on adults in New York with vaccine effectiveness declining from about 92% in early May to nearly 80% by late July.

Between the lines: The two datasets out Tuesday add to the emerging evidence that protection from COVID-19 shots decreases over time.

By the numbers: Among the 43,127 COVID infections in Los Angeles County, between May 1 and July 25, about 25% were fully vaccinated, about 3% were partially vaccinated and about 71% were unvaccinated, the report shows.

Fully vaccinated people with COVID-19 were also less likely to be hospitalized than unvaccinated people.

  • About 3% of vaccinated people were hospitalized, .5% were in an ICU and .2% needed a ventilator.
  • Among the unvaccinated, nearly 8% were hospitalized, 1.5% were in an ICU and .5% were on a ventilator.

The bottom line: The vaccine still protects the majority of people from severe illness, and breakthrough cases among the vaccinated are still rare.

Go deeper: We're all going to pay for the unvaccinated

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