ALBANY (WENY) – The New York State Department of Health releasing data Wednesday showing the efficacy of vaccines against COVID-19.
The study is the first in the nation to be based on data collected from the millions who have received the COVID-19 shot in the Empire State, rather than data found in a controlled group during trials. Published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the study found unvaccinated New Yorkers were 11 times more likely to be hospitalized and eight times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated.
“The findings of our research are clear: Vaccines provide the strongest protection for New Yorkers against getting infected or becoming hospitalized due to COVID-19,” said senior author and State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “I applaud the research and work done by our scientists and continue to encourage all New Yorkers to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Our study indicates while breakthrough cases of COVID-19 are rare, fully vaccinated New Yorkers still need to remain vigilant as the Delta variant has led to increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. We are proud that our research is informing our federal partners on policy decisions affecting people across the nation.”
Public health scientists and epidemiologists from the department looked at rates of cases and hospitalizations among vaccinated New Yorkers 18-years-old and older and compared those rates to cases among the unvaccinated from May 3 to July 25.
“We undertook this study to better understand the current situation regarding vaccines, cases and hospitalizations,” said lead study author Dr. Eli Rosenberg. “At this important time in the epidemic, we’ve observed a clear increase in cases for unvaccinated and even vaccinated people. Yet these results demonstrate that compared to unvaccinated people, those who are vaccinated remain consistently far more protected against infection and hospitalization. Vaccines remain a critical tool for COVID-19 prevention.”
The study found during the emergence of the Delta variant and the loosening of social distancing and mask-wearing requirements, both groups saw an increase of COVID-19 cases, but scientists found vaccines were still 80% effective in reducing COVID-19 cases, even with the more contagious variant. Additionally, vaccines remained roughly 92% – 95% effective in preventing hospitalizations.
“This study demonstrates that state-level COVID-19 surveillance data can be practically analyzed to assess COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, vaccine coverage, vaccine effectiveness, and rate of breakthrough infections,” said study co-author Dr. David Holtgrave. “The data presented here are highly useful for informing COVID-19 prevention efforts including vaccination programs and multi-layered strategies.”
Wednesday, the White House also announced that Americans who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be eligible for a booster shot eight months after their second dose, starting September 20. Studies show that this third shot will increase the effectiveness of preventing disease among the Delta variant, as protection from the initial vaccine may weaken over time.