October 1, 2021
An important lesson learned so far from the COVID-19 pandemic: vaccines work.
“They are effective, and they have been studied more than any vaccine I know of,” Dr. Tom Weida, University Medical Center’s chief medical officer, said during a recent Mini Medical School presentation. Mini Medical School is a collaboration of The University of Alabama OLLI program and UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, which operates UMC.
Weida said the current vaccines provide strong protection against both COVID-19 and it’s more contagious delta variant. He said the vast majority of virus infections now are a result of the delta variant, and “unvaccinated people are at risk.”
While he recognized that there can be COVID-19 “breakthrough” infections among vaccinated individuals, “you don’t get too sick, and you don’t have to be hospitalized.”
There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States – Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. According to Weida: the Moderna vaccine is 93% effective during the first four months after full vaccination and 92% after that; the Pfizer vaccine is 91% effective during the first four months after full vaccination and 77% after that; and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 71% effective.
To date in Alabama, 56.6% of individuals ages 18-64 have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 43.85 are fully vaccinated. For those age 65 and older, 90.6% have received one dose and 78.3% are fully vaccinated.
Weida noted that the higher vaccination rates among older individuals is reflected in the state’s COVID-19 deaths. In October 2020, 4.8% of COVID-19 deaths were in the 25-49 age group, 17.6% in the 50-64 age group, and 77.3% in the 65 and older age group. In September 2010, 15.3% of COVID-19 deaths were in the 25-49 age group, 30.6% in the 50-64 age group, and 53.9% in the 65 and older age group.
“The increase of deaths in the 25-49 and 50-64 age groups related to being unvaccinated,” Weida said. “These are unnecessary deaths.”
The Mini Medical School program has been put on by faculty and resident physicians of CCHS since 2016. It provides an opportunity for adults and community learners to explore trends in medicine and health, and the lectures offer important information about issues and advances in medicine and research.