The Oklahoman

Vaccines may have prevented deaths

Analysis looked at infections, deaths and hospitaliz­ations in seniors on Medicare

- Dana Branham

A new report from federal health officials shows that COVID-19 vaccinatio­ns may have prevented more than 1,000 deaths of Oklahoma seniors and other Medicare recipients between January and May this year.

The report released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services shows that across the U.S., COVID-19 vaccinatio­ns were linked to a reduction of 265,000 COVID-19 infections, more than 100,000 hospitaliz­ations and 39,000 deaths in the Medicare population.

The analysis looked at how many infections, hospitaliz­ations and deaths were avoided among Medicare beneficiaries in 48 states, about 85% of which are 65 or older. (Texas and Hawaii were excluded from the report because of data reporting limitation­s.)

In Oklahoma, researcher­s found that COVID-19 vaccinatio­ns were linked to a

reduction in COVID-19 deaths by 1,100, hospitaliz­ations for COVID-19 by 2,800, and infections by 7,500 in the Medicare population.

“This report reaffirms what we hear routinely from states: COVID-19 vaccines save lives, prevent hospitaliz­ations, and reduce infection,” HHS secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Oklahoma's vaccinatio­n rates are highest among people 65 and older: 80% of that age group is fully vaccinated, and 92% have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Caddo County has the highest percentage of its 65 and older population fully vaccinated: 96.6%, as of the state's most recent epidemiolo­gy report.

Of the state's population over age 12, about 57% are fully vaccinated, and nearly 68% have had at least one dose.

Federal health officials said the report underscore­d why it's important for everyone eligible to get vaccinated. The researcher­s found that high vaccinatio­n rates for all adults offered even more protection to the Medicare beneficiaries they studied, as opposed to high rates of vaccinatio­n just for the elderly.

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 were more than 10 times less likely to die from the disease, compared with unvaccinat­ed people.

Anyone 12 and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. People 65 and older, those who live in nursing homes, adults with certain underlying health conditions, and frontline workers are also eligible for a booster dose if they received the Pfizer vaccine and it has been six months since their second dose.

To find a vaccinatio­n appointmen­t near you, visit or the Oklahoma vaccine scheduling portal at

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