Nov. 19, 2021 -- Two top U.S. health officials say a growing number of fully vaccinated people who haven’t gotten a booster shot are being hospitalized with breakthrough cases of COVID-19.

“What we’re starting to see now is an uptick in hospitalizations among people who’ve been vaccinated but not boosted,” Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, said Tuesday in an interview with NBC News. “It’s a significant proportion, but not the majority by any means.”

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, speaking Wednesday at a White House news briefing, noted that many of the vaccinated people showing up in emergency rooms are over age 65. Vaccine effectiveness is waning for that age group, which was among the first to be vaccinated, she said.

Walensky and Fauci both stressed that booster shots help keep people – especially the elderly – out of the hospital.

Fauci, citing data from Israel, said booster shots help keep people from becoming severely ill. One such study reported a twentyfold reduction in severe disease among people over 60 who got booster shots.

​​“That’s where we get back to the importance of getting a boost,” Fauci said. “It will dramatically diminish the likelihood that if you do get infected with a breakthrough infection that you’ll wind up in the hospital.”

Walensky cited research on long-term care facilities from the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network that compared COVID rates between people who are fully vaccinated and those who got extra doses.

“The rate of disease is markedly lower for those who received their booster shot, demonstrating our boosters are working,” she said. “We want to reinforce the importance of people who are eligible getting boosted now, especially those at highest risk for severe disease.”But the unvaccinated are still most vulnerable to COVID-19.

"Studies show that those who are unvaccinated continue to be more likely to be infected, more likely to be in the hospital and more likely to have severe complications from Covid-19," Walensky said.

Walensky said the seven-day daily average of cases was about 83,600 cases per day and the seven-day average of hospital admissions was around 5,300 per day. The seven-day average of daily deaths was about 1,000 per day.

Show Sources

NBC News: “Hospitalizations rising among fully vaccinated in U.S., Fauci says.”

The White House: “Press Briefing by White House COVID-⁠19 Response Team and Public Health Officials.”

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