COVID-19 has been especially dangerous for older people throughout the pandemic, but data on the current increase in cases provides even more reason for those in this age group to make sure their vaccines are up to date.
Compared to the winter surge driven by the Omicron variant, Arizona has since February seen a greater share of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among those 65 and older:
- COVID-19 Cases: 19%, compared to 11% during the winter surge.
- COVID-19 Hospitalizations: 58%, compared to 44% during the winter surge.
- COVID-19 Deaths: 86%, compared to 75% during the winter surge.
In addition, those ages 55 to 64 have accounted for 13% of hospitalized cases since February, compared to 10% during the winter surge.
Our immune systems weaken as we age. That’s why those 65 and older were among those prioritized when the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine became available in late 2020. And that’s why those 50 and older are recommended for first and second booster doses at recommended intervals.
The BA.5 Omicron subvariant that’s come to dominate in Arizona appears better able to elude our immunity from vaccination or previous infection. But vaccines and booster doses have been doing a very good job of preventing a substantial rise in hospitalizations and deaths. In May, adults who were vaccinated and boosted were eight times less likely to be hospitalized and 21 times less likely to die than unvaccinated individuals.
Everyone 5 and older is recommended for a safe and highly effective booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Along with individuals ages 50 and older, those 12 and older with weakened immune systems are recommended for a second booster dose. You can find convenient providers of COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses at azhealth.gov/FindVaccine.
COVID-19 is still active in our communities. Vaccination remains the best way to make sure your immune system can protect against severe outcomes. That applies to everyone, but it’s even more important if you are 65 or older.