A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed Tuesday that people who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 are 29.2 times as likely to be hospitalized because of the virus as fully vaccinated people.
The study, which looked at infections among more than 43,000 people in Los Angeles from May through most of July, puts a clear number on something public health officials around the country have been broadcasting for months: People who are vaccinated against COVID-19 drastically lower their chances of suffering any serious symptoms from the virus.
“These data remind us that if you are not yet vaccinated, you are among those highest at risk,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a press conference Tuesday after sharing the new findings.
The study also found that infection rates among the unvaccinated were nearly five times those of the fully vaccinated, shedding further light on how the vaccines ward off serious illness in those who have breakthrough cases.
“Please, do not underestimate the risk of serious consequences of this virus,” Walensky continued. “Vaccines are the best tool we have to take charge of this pandemic.”
The highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 now represents over 98% of COVID-19 cases in the United States, Walensky said. The threat of such a dangerous variant combined with lagging vaccination rates across the country has left some communities overwhelmed with new cases and a shortage of hospital beds.
In Alabama, more than half the ICU beds in the state are taken up by COVID-19 patients, leaving little room for people with other ailments, and some schools have had to revert back to remote learning. Mississippi has repeatedly set new records for coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. On Tuesday, the state’s health department announced the state had set a new one-day record for COVID-19 deaths after 111 people perished.
The Food and Drug Administration gave the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine its full approval on Monday, making it the first vaccine to reach that status in the U.S. A number of governments, schools, businesses and other decision-makers began rolling out vaccine requirements later that day in response to the FDA’s decision.