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Healthwatch 16: Vaccination slowdown

We spoke with a Geisinger doctor about his thoughts on the rate of vaccinations slowing in this Healthwatch 16 report.

We're a few months into COVID-19 vaccines being available, and it looks as though vaccination rates are slowing.

First came the rush, as people searched far and wide for an available COVID-19 vaccine—and for good reason. According to the CDC, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 94 percent effective against hospitalizations in older Americans after both doses.

Dr. Gerald Maloney, chief medical officer for Geisinger Hospital Services, says the vaccines are "very effective and absolutely working."

"The average age of people in the hospital between April and January went down from 69 to about 58. The biggest age group of hospitalizations now are between 25 and 49, which has been for whatever the reason most resistant or hesitant to get the vaccine," said Dr. Maloney.

Dr. Maloney underscores this point: We've made progress, but we're not there yet. It's the slightly younger crew now worrying the medical community.

"That middle age group, that 25 to 49 age group, is the age group that is really coming into the time where they are developing comorbidities, where they're getting other medical conditions, where they are just not as resilient as the younger people, as the teenagers. So we're starting to see hospital-level disease in that population increase significantly."

Dr. Maloney says not getting as many people vaccinated as possible means even if we return to normal, there's a chance we won't stay there since variants will still have the chance to form and circulate.