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Covid-19 cases jumped 10% in the United States over the last week and the Delta variant could become the dominant strain. The variant is more transmissible than most other strains, but we also know that vaccines work well against it.
There is clear evidence that the vaccines work well in the real world. People who are choosing not to get it are putting their lives – and those around them – at unnecessary risk.
Preliminary data from a collection of states reveals that more than 99% of deaths over the last six months were among unvaccinated people, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week – without citing specifics.
We can see how well the vaccines work in the broader case and death trends by looking at one of the groups most likely to get vaccinated: older Americans.
According to the CDC, Americans 50 years and older make up 27% of Covid-19 infections in preliminary June data. More complete data from May have them as 26% of all cases.
This is a significant shift from December 2020. Back then, 35% of all cases were among those ages 50 and older. Americans 50 years and older make up 36% of the population.
Of course, older people are more prone to serious illness and death, and we see that in the numbers. In May and June, 91% of Covid-19 related deaths were among those 50 years and older. Still, this is down from December 2020 when they accounted for 96% of all Covid-19 related deaths.
When we zoom in on those aged 65 and older, the decline is even more dramatic. They were 83% of all Covid related deaths in December 2020. In preliminary June data, they accounted for 65%.
The one big thing that changed from December to now is America’s vaccination campaign in the last six months. Today, those 50 and older make up 54% of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, well above their share of the population.
Another way of looking at this is that a little more than 70% of those ages 50 and older have been fully vaccinated. For all adults, just 58% have been fully vaccinated. Among all Americans, only 47% of Americans have been.
Those 65 years and older are even more likely to get vaccinated. Nearly four-fifths (78%) among this group have been fully vaccinated. Keep in mind that older Americans were among the first to have access to the vaccine, after health care workers.
One reason why more older Americans have been vaccinated is that partisanship is less of a factor.
When we take an average of the late May and early June Axios/Ipsos polls, older Democrats (ages 50 and older) are more likely to say they have gotten a vaccine than older Republicans, 86% to 64%. That’s a clear gap to be sure, but take a look at the partisan difference between those under the age of 50.
Among adults 18 to 49 years old, Democrats (74%) were 38 points more likely to say they had gotten a Covid-19 vaccine than Republicans (36%) were.
The good news is that the most vulnerable part of our population is the most likely to be vaccinated.
Even so, young people can pass it to others and die from it, and no one should want to get Covid-19.
Everybody who can, should get vaccinated. It will save lives.