The number of U.S. seniors falling seriously ill and dying from Covid-19 has dropped precipitously, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Tuesday, a trend health experts linked to high vaccination rates.
Coronavirus cases and deaths have fallen rapidly among all ages in recent months, but they’ve dropped especially quickly for seniors, who now make up a far smaller proportion of overall case counts and death tolls, the CDC found.
Elderly Americans accounted for 68% of overall U.S. Covid-19 deaths in late April, down from 84.2% in early December.
Hospital visits also plummeted over the same time period: Covid-19 hospitalization rates fell 78% for seniors, versus a 63% drop for adults overall, and the percentage of total hospitalized adults who were ages 70 and older fell from 45.6% to 27.6%.
At a Tuesday press briefing, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said seniors are no longer bearing such a disproportionate brunt of severe coronavirus cases and deaths because elderly Americans are far more heavily vaccinated than younger adults.
“These differential declines are likely due, in part, to higher COVID-19 vaccination coverage among older adults, highlighting the potential benefits of rapidly increasing vaccination coverage,” the study’s authors wrote.
86.4%. That’s the share of U.S. seniors who are at least partially vaccinated, according to CDC data Monday. By comparison, 63.7% of total adults have received at least one vaccine dose, including just 44.9% of people ages 18 to 24 and 50.6% of ages 24 to 39.
Seniors are far more likely to become gravely ill from Covid-19 and ultimately die than kids or younger adults. People over 65 have made up nearly 80% of the pandemic’s overall death toll in the United States, and many nursing homes and long-term care facilities have grappled with brutal outbreaks, leaving over 100,000 long-term care residents dead. As a result, state governments let seniors line up for vaccines before younger age groups, and in states like Vermont and Pennsylvania, more than 90% of elderly people are partially vaccinated.
Vaccines probably aren’t the only reason proportionally fewer seniors are getting sick and dying from Covid-19, the CDC says. Cases have dropped nationwide after peaking in January, state and local public health rules have been tightened and loosened repeatedly in the last six months, and new coronavirus variants have been blamed for infecting young adults at a higher rate.
75% Of U.S. Seniors Are Now Fully Vaccinated (Forbes)