A recent report revealed that older adults have made up the majority of COVID-19-related hospitalizations and in-hospital fatalities this year. This report was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the report, two-thirds of older adults were hospitalized after covid 19 infection this year. This trend comes alongside a concerning lack of updated booster shots among this age group.
Elderly Hospitalizations Surge
Based on data from the CDC’s COVID-NET, the report highlights the stark contrast in hospitalization figures. Between January and August 2023, adults 65 and older accounted for a substantial 62.9% of all COVID-19-linked hospitalizations.
In contrast, this age group represented only 45.9% of such hospitalizations between March 2020 and December 2022.
During the week ending August 26, 2023, the hospitalization rate for individuals aged 65 and above stood at 16.4 per 100,000. It is a staggering nine times higher than the rate for adults aged 18 to 64. And also, it is markable 16 times higher than that for individuals under the age of 18. The hospitalization rates were notably highest among adults aged 85 and older (42.2 per 100,000). And lowest among those aged 65 to 74 (8.6 per 100,000).
Dire Outcomes for Seniors
The statistics regarding ICU admissions and in-hospital COVID-19 deaths paint a grim picture. Senior citizens accounted for 61.3% of ICU admissions and 87.9% of in-hospital COVID-19 deaths in the first half of 2023. Notably, there were no significant differences among subgroups of patients in this age bracket.
Lack of Booster Uptake
In September 2022, new booster shots became available to protect against the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. However, only about 23.6% of senior citizens received this critical booster. Additionally, only 58.6% had received the original vaccines rolled out at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.
Underlying Conditions Increase Risk
The report underscores the high prevalence of underlying health conditions among older adults. Nearly all aged 65 and older, 98.5%, had at least one underlying condition, and 90.3% had two or more. It includes diabetes, kidney disorders, coronary artery disease, chronic heart failure, and obesity. When adjusting for factors such as age, sex, and race or ethnicity, they found that senior citizens with two or more underlying conditions faced a fourfold greater risk of hospitalization.
Older adults have made up the majority of COVID-19-associated hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths this year and few received an updated booster, new federal data shows. https://t.co/RRPif2nGEZ— ABC News (@ABC) October 6, 2023
Public Health Implications
The report’s authors emphasized the ongoing risk that COVID-19 poses to older adults and the importance of vaccination. They stressed the need for all adults, especially those aged 65 and older and those at high risk for severe COVID-19, to get vaccinated.
The data collected during the first half of 2023 revealed that elderly hospitalized individuals were more likely to be of white ethnicity and were not typically residents of long-term care facilities. This information will help public health officials make informed recommendations regarding treatments and vaccines.
In conclusion, the CDC’s findings demonstrate that older adults remain highly vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infection, underscoring the urgency of protective measures and booster shots in this age group.