According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospitalizations for COVID-19 are at least three times more common in seniors than in any other age group.
As of December 7, there were 6.93 new hospital admissions for every 100,000 people aged 70 and over.
As of December 6, the rate for people between the ages of 60 and 69 was 2.21 per 100,000.
The disparity is even more pronounced when rates for younger age groups are considered. The new hospital admissions rate for people 17 and younger is 0.28 per 100,000.
It follows CDC data that, as of December 7, showed that more than 90% of COVID-19 deaths occurred in people aged 50 or older.
According to Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News contributor, “it sort of really highlights both that this virus is still around and is causing significant illness in our communities, impacting our most vulnerable population, which is the elderly population.”
According to Brownstein, the older population’s lack of booster shots is evident from the rising hospitalization rates.
According to CDC data, only slightly more than one-third of seniors aged 65 and older have received an updated bivalent booster dose, despite the fact that 93.8% of them are fully immunized.
The lack of an increase in this population is most likely the result of several factors, according to Brownstein. “There’s probably some misunderstanding or false information about the advantages of boosting.”
He went on, “They may have received both the initial vaccination and the virus, so they may believe they are [protected]. Additionally, the level of vaccination-related messaging has decreased.”
According to Brownstein, there is already evidence that COVID hospitalizations are trending upward, and this trend may continue during the upcoming holiday season as more people travel and congregate indoors, possibly without masks.
Hospitals are also experiencing the strain of an early respiratory season as cases of the flu and RSV, which mostly affect seniors and fill hospital beds and emergency rooms, are reported.
As of the week ending December 3, the most recent week for which data are available, adults 65 and older were being hospitalized for RSV at a weekly rate of 3.5 per 100,000, according to CDC data.
Additionally, the CDC reports that seniors are hospitalized for flu at a rate of 18 per 100,000 per week, which is higher than that of any other age group.
Seniors should be given a boost, especially in advance of the holiday season, but Brownstein also emphasized the need for them to receive their primary series if they haven’t already.
According to the CDC, unvaccinated seniors aged 80 and older are dying at the highest rate of 14.16 per 100,000 as of September 25 — the most recent date for which data are available — followed by unvaccinated seniors aged 65 to 79 at 5.68 per 100,000.
The cornerstone of the strategy, according to Brownstein, “really still remains vaccination.” “Trying to increase access and education, combating false information, and disseminating information prior to the holiday season.”
He continued by saying that while it’s crucial for this group to receive the shots, the rest of the community also needs to do so, particularly because kids may unintentionally infect their parents or grandparents.
“Ultimately we need to do what we can to protest our most vulnerable, the ones who may not be able to mount a good immune response to vaccines,” Brownstein said. “Of course, we also need to be appropriately cautious, making sure we’ve acting responsibly.”