CDC: Vaccines Help Keep Elderly Out of Hospitals

Ralph Ellis

April 30, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

People over 65 who are fully vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccines were 94% less likely to be hospitalized than unvaccinated people of the same age group, the CDC says.

Partially vaccinated people were 64% less likely to be hospitalized, the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says.

The real-world study looked at 417 hospitalized adults from 14 states between January and March. The study only examined the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, not the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. About half the patients were 75 or older.

The findings bear out what clinical trials showed and what health experts have been saying: The COVID vaccine protects people, especially vulnerable groups like the elderly.

"Vaccination is a critical tool for reducing severe COVID-19 in groups at high risk," the CDC said.

In a news release, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, called the report "encouraging and welcome news."

"The results are promising for our communities and hospitals," she said. "As our vaccination efforts continue to expand, COVID-19 patients will not overwhelm health care systems — leaving hospital staff, beds, and services available for people who need them for other medical conditions."

The U.S. vaccine effort has prioritized older adults. The CDC says that 82.1% of adults over 65 have gotten at least one shot of COVID vaccine and 68.4% are fully vaccinated. In comparison, 43% of the entire U.S. population has gotten at least one shot and 30% of the population is fully vaccinated.

The study noted that research in Israel also showed the real-world effectiveness of vaccines, but only with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The CDC said the study confirmed that vaccines don't offer any protection until 14 days after the first shot.


CDC: "Effectiveness of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Vaccines Against COVID-19 Among Hospitalized Adults Aged ≥65 Years — United States, January–March 2021." "Fully Vaccinated Adults 65 and Older Are 94% Less Likely to Be Hospitalized with COVID-19."

CDC Vaccine Tracker.