BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The largest U.S. COVID-19 vaccine study to date shows continued effectiveness of vaccines. The New York State Department of Health conducted the study by examining the levels of new diagnosed infections and hospitalizations from May to August 2021 in those vaccinated in January through April 2021, compared to people who never received a vaccine. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"We're talking 9 million people, so it's one of the largest studies of it's type," Dr. Raul Vazquez, physician at Urban Family Practice said, "I mean what it's telling us that what we've been doing is working."
The study said vaccine efficacy when preventing COVID-19 related hospitalizations remains high, despite the vaccine's decreasing efficacy against infection.
"The efficacy for infection decreased a lot more than the efficacy for hospitalization," Dr. Thomas Russo, professor and chief of infectious disease at the Jacobs School of Medicine at the University at Buffalo said.
The study found modest declines in those 65-years-old and above when preventing against hospitalization. The study also said that decreased vaccine efficacy against infection isn't necessarily due to waning immunity.
"When Delta showed up, vaccine efficacy decreased. They felt that the vaccine efficacy decrease was largely due to Delta, in part due to our behavior with decreased mask use, increased behaviors that put individuals at risk for infection, and less so with the waning of the immune response with the vaccine," Dr. Russo said.
Both Dr. Russo and Dr. Vazquez said the key takeaway from this study is that if you want to stay out of the hospital, take the COVID-19 vaccine.
"The study is reassuring in that it tells us that even though vaccine efficacy may decrease over time, its protective effects against severe disease and hospitalization are still pretty good," Dr. Russo said.
Both doctors warned that if more people don't take the vaccine, hospitals may not be able to handle all of those in need of COVID-19 related care.
"We may get to the point that if you get sick, you can't go to the hospital. You're going to have to stay home. That's not what this country was designed to handle, which is not good," Dr. Vazquez said.