COVID-19 hospitalizations increasing among fully vaccinated, Fauci says

An increasing number of fully vaccinated adults are seeking emergency care or being hospitalized for COVID-19 as cases rise nationwide, two top health officials said this week, according to NBC News.

The majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated people, but the nation is seeing "inklings" of waning protection against severe infection, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the outlet Nov. 17.

"What we're starting to see now is an uptick in hospitalizations among people who've been vaccinated but not boosted," he said. "It's a significant proportion, but not the majority by any means."

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, pointed to potential signs of waning immunity among older adults and long-term care facility residents, many of whom were among the first to be vaccinated in early 2021. 

"Although the highest risk are those people who are unvaccinated, we are seeing an increase in emergency department visits among adults 65 and older, which are now again higher than they are for younger age groups," Dr. Walensky said during a White House briefing Nov. 17. 

Federal data shows long-term care residents who received a booster dose had a "markedly lower" infection rate compared with those who did not, "demonstrating our boosters are working," Dr. Walensky said.

The CDC does not publish a running tally on total COVID-19 breakthrough cases, and state reporting on hospitalization trends for these individuals is inconsistent. However, a Nov. 21 Wall Street Journal analysis of more than 21 million fully vaccinated people found there have been more than 1.89 million infections, 72,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths this year among fully vaccinated adults this year.  

The rise in hospitalizations among fully vaccinated adults comes as the government opens booster eligibility to all adults who meet timeline requirements. 

As of Nov. 15, the nation's seven-day hospitalization rate was 5,381, according to the CDC.

Editor's note: This article was updated Nov. 22 at 10:40 a.m.


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