LOS ANGELES - Recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that unvaccinated people are more than 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19.
In August, the CDC found that people who were not vaccinated against COVID-19 were at more than six times greater risk of contracting COVID-19 and 11.3 times greater risk of dying from the disease.
That’s according to the health agency’s "Rates of COVID-19 Cases or Deaths by Vaccination Status," which tracked over 600,000 COVID-19 cases from April through late August this year, as the highly contagious delta variant swept the nation.
"Vaccination works," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC’s director, said in a White House briefing last month. "The bottom line is this: We have the scientific tools we need to turn the corner on this pandemic."
Walensky added that well over 90% of people in U.S. hospitals with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
But as earlier data has shown, protection against coronavirus infection is slipping some: It was 91% in the spring but 78% in June and July, according to a CDC study published on Sept. 22.
So-called "breakthrough" cases among the fully vaccinated accounted for 14% of hospitalizations and 16% of deaths in June and July, about twice the percentage as earlier in the year.
While breakthrough cases are to be expected, according to health officials, they have impacted less than .03% of the total population of Americans who have been immunized.
According to the latest data from the CDC, as of Oct. 12, more than 187 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. So far, the CDC says it has received reports of 31,895 patients with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections who were hospitalized or died.
The majority of breakthrough COVID-19 cases that resulted in hospitalization or death were in elderly people.
"To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in the case demographics or vaccine characteristics among people with reported vaccine breakthrough infections," the CDC wrote on its website.
Echoing confidence in the current protection of the COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he feels that fully vaccinated families can safely enjoy the upcoming holidays.
"That’s one the reasons why we emphasized why it’s so important to get vaccinated, not only for your own safety, for that of your family, but also for the good of the community, to keep the level of infection down," he said. "When you do that, there’s no reason at all why you can’t enjoy the holidays in a family way, the way we’ve traditionally done it all along."
Even though he has been largely encouraged by the downward trend of coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths across the nation, Fauci isn’t ready to clear holiday gatherings for the 66 million unvaccinated Americans.
"When you're in the family unit, among people who are vaccinated, I think you should just enjoy the holidays as best you can in the family spirit," Fauci told FOX News Sunday. "For those who are not vaccinated, first, I would encourage them very strongly to get vaccinated, but if they're not, they should do what the CDC recommends," which includes wearing a mask indoors.
Much of the downward trend can be attributed to an increase in the country’s vaccination rate. The United States is averaging more than 1 million vaccinations a day again, now that Pfizer’s booster shot is available. And it could soon tick even higher now that an FDA panel has cleared booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
"The information, which is critical information, that we're getting from Israel, is very, very clear that there's waning immunity and that we do need to boost individuals who've received any of the three products that we've been dealing with right now," Fauci explained.
Jordan Smith contributed to this story.