Skip to Main Content
October 08, 2021

Health Law Weekly

COVID-19 Vaccinations Linked to Preventing 39,000 Deaths Among Medicare Beneficiaries, HHS Reports

  • October 08, 2021

COVID-19 vaccinations likely helped to prevent an estimated 265,000 infections, 107,000 hospitalizations, and 39,000 deaths among the Medicare population between January and May 2021, according to a new report released October 5 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

"This report reaffirms what we hear routinely from states: COVID-19 vaccines save lives, prevent hospitalizations, and reduce infection," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

Before vaccinations were available, nearly 80% of deaths related to COVID-19 were among those 65 and older, HHS said. The study, conducted by researchers with HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, found a marked decrease in weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths among Medicare beneficiaries as vaccination rates rose between January and May of this year.

Researchers also found a reduction of about 5,600 deaths among Medicare beneficiaries living in nursing homes over the study period. Medicare data has underscored the significant toll on beneficiaries residing in nursing homes during the initial waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent HHS Office of Inspector General report found 42% of the roughly 3.1 million Medicare beneficiaries who resided in nursing homes in 2020 had or likely had COVID-19.