Through ‘pre booster’ study, NYSDOH says COVID vaccines kept hospital numbers down

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A critical question surrounding COVID is “how effective are the vaccines?” Before boosters were even a thought, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) had a close eye on them.

Leaders of a new study tell News10NBC the biggest advantage, is the prevention of hospitalizations.

This study was a "pre booster" look if you will, that was done from May 1 through Aug. 28. Scientists say the performance around Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson was highly effective.

"But that’s before boosters for Pfizer became approved in September, and the answer is they were doing really well,” said NYSDOH Deputy Director for Science Eli Rosenberg.

This study, involving 8.8 million people in the Empire State was a second piece to a larger project, deciphering how well vaccines are protecting New Yorkers.

"A lot of data that has come out to date has been from international settings with much smaller populations,” Rosenberg said.

The immunization data was collected through labs and records of hospitalizations.

"In this study, vaccines remained highly effective at preventing hospitalizations from COVID-19,” Rosenberg added.

Some of the findings in the study support the need for boosters in people 65 and older. Experts say they saw limited decline in effectiveness in ages 18 to 64. At one point during the study, doctors say signs of early ineffectiveness leveled off when the delta variant started circulating. Rosenberg said that right now, boosters are less of a concern for adults under 65.

"We did see slight declines in 65 plus particularly those who received Pfizer or Moderna, people who became infected, we did see some declines depending on which product between 10% and 20% in declines in the effectiveness during that period, we’re still seeing pretty high protection against infections,” Rosenberg said

Once the Delta variant hit New York, the vaccines were not performing as well, across the board in age, vaccine type, or when you got it. Doctors say changes in COVID-19 protection protocols could be a reason.