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Expand chart
Reproduced from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations among older Americans dropped significantly since the vaccine rollout at the start of the year, new federal data show.

Why it matters: The vaccines have worked extremely well for one of the most vulnerable demographics. Roughly 97% of people 65 and older have at least one vaccine dose, and more than 85% of that age group is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Yes, but: Certain portions of the Medicare population continue to be more susceptible to severe COVID-19 and hospitalization than others.

  • People who are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid — the poorest demographic, who often are in nursing homes — are 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized, according to federal data.
  • Medicare enrollees who have kidney failure and compromised immune systems also are significantly more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than old or disabled Medicare enrollees.

Go deeper

15 hours ago - Health

CDC strengthens COVID booster recommendation

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday strengthened its previous recommendation for booster shots, saying that everyone 18 and older "should" receive a booster dose.

Why it matters: Last month, CDC director Rochelle Walensky accepted a key advisory committee's recommendation that adults "may" get the shot. The slight, but strengthened, change in wording comes amid the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Nov 29, 2021 - Health

Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world

Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images

The emergence of the Omicron variant is bringing new urgency to global vaccination efforts.

Why it matters: New variants can emerge anywhere, and can spread everywhere. Getting doses to the developing world — and getting those doses into people's arms — is essential, and that effort has so far been lagging.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."