One year ago today, Cleveland Clinic administered its first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. It was given to a nurse who takes care of hospitalized patients. Since that time, Cleveland Clinic has administered more than 350,000 doses of vaccine in Northeast Ohio alone.
While many hospitals today are full of patients who are COVID-positive, vaccines do work. Science has proved they work, but only if we take them. There may be breakthrough infections – infections in those who are fully vaccinated — but those are typically milder and don’t require hospitalization or ICU care.
The vast majority of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated. Those who are hospitalized — despite being fully vaccinated – are generally older patients and people with compromised immune systems, often due to cancer treatments, transplant medications or immune-related disease. In these patients, vaccines don’t work as effectively but are worthwhile in providing important protection against severe disease and death.
A study released earlier this week by the Commonwealth Fund – a private foundation that supports independent research on healthcare issues — showed that the United States vaccination campaign has profoundly curbed the pandemic’s toll. Without the vaccination program:
- There would have been approximately 1.1 million additional COVID-19 deaths and more than 10.3 million additional COVID-19 hospitalizations and an estimated 35,903,646 additional infections in the U.S. by November 2021.
- COVID-19 deaths would have been approximately 3.2 times higher and COVID-19 hospitalizations approximately 4.9 times higher than the actual toll in the U.S. during 2021.
- Daily deaths from COVID-19 could have jumped to as high as 21,000 per day — nearly 5.2 times the level of the record peak of more than 4,000 deaths per day recorded in January 2021.
The numbers are staggering to consider, especially when nearly 800,000 Americans – mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, neighbors — have died during this pandemic. Of that number, nearly half have died this year. Sadly, many of those deaths could have been prevented with vaccinations.
Those who are vaccinated have better protection against COVID-19. Their family and friends do, too, along with colleagues and the community because those who are vaccinated reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Vaccines work. If we take them.