For the first time since the pandemic began, a majority of Americans dying from the coronavirus were at least partially vaccinated, according to a new analysis of federal and state data.
Declining effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and increasingly contagious strains of the virus being transmitted to the elderly and immunocompromised have led to more deaths among those who took at least one dose of the vaccine, a Washington Post analysis published Wednesday found.
“58 percent of August’s coronavirus deaths were people who were vaccinated or boosted,” the Post reported.
The paper described a “worrying trend” as the proportion of deaths among people who have been vaccinated has “increased steadily” over the past year.
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“In September 2021, vaccinated people accounted for just 23 percent of coronavirus deaths. In January and February of this year, it was up to 42 percent,” wrote The Washington Post’s Fenit Nirappil and Dan Keating.
“We can no longer say this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Cynthia Cox, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducted the analysis on behalf of the Post.
Senior health officials have repeatedly urged Americans to complete their primary vaccination series and get boosted to maximize immunization protection against COVID-19.
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At a news conference on Tuesday, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha unveiled the Biden administration’s new “six-week sprint” campaign to get Americans vaccinated this holiday season.
“The bottom line is that we’re doing everything we can over the next six weeks to help families get their updated COVID records by the end of the year because that’s the best protection this winter,” Jha said, adding adding that this is the latest iteration of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is a “once-a-year shot,” similar to the flu shot.
Outgoing White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci also spoke at Tuesday’s press conference, where he delivered his “final message” before stepping down at the end of the year.
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Fauci emphasized the safety and effectiveness of approved COVID-19 vaccines in preventing serious illness and death, and encouraged Americans to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. Noting that the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine diminishes over time, he said the disease shouldn’t be compared to other vaccine-treatable diseases like measles because new variants emerge every few months.
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“My message and my final message, perhaps the final message I give you from this podium, is that for your own safety and that of your family, please get your updated COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you qualify for protection yourself, your family and your community,” Fauci said. “I urge you to visit Vaccine.gov to find a place where you can easily obtain an updated vaccine, and please do so as soon as possible possible.”
Several medical experts, including Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, have acknowledged that the coronavirus vaccines do not necessarily protect people from infection and transmission.
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Despite this, several people, including Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Lapado, have been criticized for claiming COVID vaccines are not as effective as initially claimed.
In October, a New York state Supreme Court ordered that all employees fired as a result of New York City’s vaccination mandate be reinstated with back pay, noting that “vaccination does not prevent a person from contracting COVID-19 to infect or transmit”.
Fox News’ Lindsay Kornick contributed to this report.