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Groundbreaking COVID-19 data in Mass. suggest vulnerable groups should be extra careful, expert says


According to state data, a significant portion of the people who suffered groundbreaking hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 in Massachusetts were elderly or had underlying conditions. For an infectious disease expert, the message is clear: stay on your guard if you are part of one of these groups.

“Everyone should be careful, but, in particular, the very vulnerable members of our population – they need to be very careful right now until this current wave subsides,” said Dr David Hamer, medical officer. Boston Medical Center infectious disease specialist and professor. at Boston University.

“Anyone who matches these demographics should be very careful if they are in a public place where they could be exposed to someone with COVID-19,” he said. (The US Centers for Disease Control recommends wearing a mask in any “public place.”)

The Ministry of Public Health said as of August 31, there had been a cumulative total of 144 revolutionary case deaths in the state. The median age of those who died was 81.2 years old, meaning that half of the deaths were in people above that age and half below. The DPH also said that in 73% of deaths, patients had underlying health conditions that made them more likely to become seriously ill.

The DPH reported a cumulative total of 651 hospitalizations of revolutionary cases. The median age of those hospitalized was 71.1 years. The DPH also said that in 54% of those hospitalizations, patients had underlying conditions.

The elderly and those with underlying illnesses have been at greater risk since the start of the pandemic and this appears to continue even among the vaccinated, Hamer said.

Hamer said it may be time to give people in these groups booster shots because they may not have responded vigorously to the first set of injections and because they received their injections earlier and the protection may weaken. The government has already recommended third injections for people who are immunocompromised and the Biden administration has said it wants to give everyone booster shots as soon as those injections are approved by the federal government.

Matthew P. Fox, professor in the departments of epidemiology and global health at Boston University, said he wanted to see well-designed and thorough epidemiological studies on the impact of the vaccine, not just raw data from the vaccine. ‘State, but the evidence still suggests the vaccine is “working very well.”

“Seeing a low number of deaths and hospitalizations among vaccinees is a good sign,” he said.

“We’ll also have to see if things change over time as we know less about how people will be affected by the Delta variant,” he said.

He warned that “those who were younger and healthier were always less at risk, so they are likely to have a better response to the vaccine. But decisive cases will always occur in this group. “

The number of groundbreaking cases, hospitalizations and deaths is expected to continue to rise, he said, as so many people in the state are vaccinated. “The hope,” he said, “is that this number will be much lower than it would have been if people had not been vaccinated.”

The state’s data had some similarities to a recent preprint study by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher who looked at data from a U.S. acute care hospital hospitalization monitoring network. The study found that fully vaccinated people admitted to hospital tended to be older (with a median age of 73) and were more likely to have three or more underlying health conditions and live in long-term care facilities.

The study went further, finding that unvaccinated adults were about 17 times more likely to be hospitalized with severe COVID-19 than adults vaccinated from January 1 to July 24. She joins other studies that have also found that vaccines are highly protective against hospitalizations.

Massachusetts officials pointed out that the state is a national leader in immunization and said that as a result, the number of revolutionary cases is “incredibly low” and that hospitalizations and revolutionary deaths are “even lower” .

The Ministry of Public Health says the cumulative total of revolutionary deaths and hospitalizations represented 0.003% and 0.01% respectively of the 4.5 million fully vaccinated people as of August 31.

“With a very small fraction of one percent of all vaccinated people hospitalized, the data clearly indicates that vaccines are the best way for residents to protect themselves and their families from the virus,” a spokesperson said. word of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services at a statement.

“More of our population is vaccinated than almost any other state. With more of our residents protected, fewer people get very sick than almost anywhere else, ”Gov. Charlie Baker said in a series of tweets on August 29.

“The facts are clear: vaccines work. … Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones, ”he said.

Jonathan Saltzman of Globe staff contributed to this report.

Martin Finucane can be reached at [email protected]

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