As winter is approaching, COVID-19 infections are bound to increase among vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. However, a closer look at CDC data shows that there is a significant difference between both groups across all age cohorts in the likeliness to become infected with the coronavirus. Between August and September 2021, the infection rates per 100,000 individuals were six to ten times higher among unvaccinated people compared with vaccinated people of the same age group.
The infection rates have a direct impact on hospitalizations, also newly reported by the CDC by vaccination status. Depending on the age group, hospitalization rates were ten to 15 times higher for unvaccinated individuals. In the case of unvaccinated 18-49 years old, this meant that hospitalizations for the coronavirus were still only at 27 in 100,000 people as of early September, just exceeding the rate for vaccinated people 65 years and older at 15 per 100,000. However, the rates of hospitalizations for unvaccinated individuals in the age groups 50-64 and 65+ were much higher, at 94 per 100,000 and 239 per 100,000 people, respectively.
Since it's mainly older people who end up at the hospital for COVID, their absolute numbers can sometimes give off the impression that vaccines are not working as well as they are. Vaccination coverage in the U.S. increases with age, hitting 86 percent among those 65 and older. Even if a COVID ward was filled halfway with vaccinated patients, the fact unvaccinated individuals are in the minority in the relevant age groups still means that their relative risk to become hospitalized with COVID-19 far exceed that of vaccinated people.
After the CDC had stopped releasing COVID-19 infections by vaccination status earlier in the year, the agency did publish a new breakdown of infections in mid-October, drawn from a dataset representing around 30 percent of the U.S. population. An update is supposed to come out when more jurisdictions have reported these figures. Hospitalization breakdowns are expected to be published monthly.