Striking new data shows vaccines have protected New Yorkers very well against Omicron so far

·2 min read
NYC covid cases by vaccination status
A graph shows cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in NYC. Recent data may be incomplete.NYC Health
  • Data from New York City's Department of Health shows vaccinated people largely avoided Omicron.

  • When COVID-19 cases spiked in early January, unvaccinated people were far more likely to get sick.

  • Most people who have been hospitalized or died of COVID-19 were not vaccinated.

The arrival of the Omicron variant created a sense of unease for most New Yorkers. But according to recent data from New York City's health department, vaccinated residents have been far less likely to test positive, become severely ill, or die of COVID-19 compared to unvaccinated people in this recent surge.

A series of graphs on the department's COVID-19 data homepage were updated Friday with data from early January, when cases of COVID-19 appeared to peak.

During the week ending January 8, unvaccinated people tested positive at rates 13 times higher than people who had received a full course of vaccines.

People are considered vaccinated at least two weeks after receiving a second dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine.

The city noted that the data from recent weeks may be incomplete. Given the fragmented nature of COVID testing in the US, it's possible that not all test results have made it to the city's health department. (If you tested positive with an at-home rapid kit, you may be one of those cases.)

Other graphs showed that rates of hospitalizations and deaths per 100,000 people were also much higher for unvaccinated people compared to the vaccinated population.

NYC covid hospitalizations by vaccination status
A graph shows hospitalizations related to COVID-19 per 100,000 people in NYC. Recent data may be incomplete.NYC Health

The vaccines were already very good at preventing hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 before Omicron emerged. While that decreased significantly with the onset of the new variant, the timing of booster shots helped soften the blow.

Although experts agree that Omicron has posed a challenge for vaccine-induced immunity, the addition of a booster shot to the recommended vaccine schedule reduced the risk of hospitalization by at least 90%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NYC covid deaths by vaccination status
A graph shows deaths related to COVID-19 per 100,000 people in NYC. Recent data may be incomplete.NYC Health

The New York City data dashboard does not include booster status, so people who completed their first course of COVID-19 vaccines without a booster were also included in the vaccinated category.

New York officials said cases in the city began to plateau on January 11, a month into the Omicron surge. Hospitalizations and deaths tend to spike after cases do, and with Omicron still raging through the rest of the country, it's too soon to say New York is out of the woods.

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