“Show me the data.”
That’s a phrase I hear quite a bit from ADHS epidemiologists, and with good reason: Numbers may be a little difficult to follow sometimes, but they tell a story and they don’t lie.
That’s why our epidemiologists update a report every month showing COVID-19 outcomes by vaccination status, including the update I’m discussing in this blog. It’s some of the most authoritative data we have showing why updating your COVID-19 vaccine protection can save your life, especially if you are older.
In June, those fully vaccinated with a booster were 12 times less likely to die from COVID-19 than those who weren’t vaccinated and those fully vaccinated without a booster were 10 times less likely to die.
Protection from hospitalization also remained strong during June: Fully vaccinated with a booster were 9.8 times less likely to be hospitalized than those not vaccinated and fully vaccinated without a booster were 8.4 times less likely to be hospitalized.
Those who follow these updates closely might notice that June results for risk of death moderated somewhat from May, when those who were fully vaccinated with a booster were 21 times less likely to die from COVID-19 than those who weren’t vaccinated and those fully vaccinated without a booster were 15 times less likely to die.
This shows why we in public health so strongly recommend making sure you are vaccinated and up to date on booster doses: As time progresses after vaccination and new variants emerge, immunity begins to wane.
I recently shared reasons why recommended second boosters are especially important for older Arizonans, including those 65 and older making up a larger share of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths since February compared to the winter surge fueled by the original Omicron variant. This new report adds yet another reason.
A booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for everyone ages 5 through 49 who is fully vaccinated. If you are 50 or older, a second booster dose is recommended to make sure your immune response is as robust as possible.
The highly contagious BA.5 Omicron subvariant that now dominates in Arizona appears better able to elude our immunity from vaccination or previous infection, but vaccines and booster doses continue to substantially reduce the chances of severe outcomes and long COVID.
It may seem repetitive to read each month that COVID-19 vaccines and boosters continue proving their ability to guard against severe outcomes, including death. But the story behind the data is so important: People continue to get severely ill and die from COVID-19, and you are far more likely to avoid long COVID, the hospital or worse if you are protected by vaccination. We will continue sharing this truth.
Boost your protection now by finding a provider near you at azhealth.gov/FindVaccine.
NOTE: With today’s update on COVID-19 outcomes by vaccination status, we have stopped including a comparison for those who test positive. That’s because changes in testing practices, including increased use of at-home testing, have made this comparison far less reliable.