PASADENA, Calif. — COVID-19 vaccine recipients had lower non-COVID-19 death rates than people who weren’t vaccinated, according to Kaiser Permanente research published October 22 in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“Despite numerous studies showing the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, some people have remained hesitant to get vaccinated,” said lead author Stanley Xu, PhD, of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation. “This study provides reassurance that the vaccines are very safe, and, in fact, people who received COVID-19 vaccines in the United States had a lower death rate than those who didn’t, even if you don’t count COVID deaths.”
To determine mortality risk associated with COVID-19 vaccination, researchers evaluated the electronic health records of 6.4 million COVID-19 vaccine recipients compared to 4.6 million unvaccinated people with similar demographics and geographic locations from December 14, 2020, through July 31, 2021. The study looked at only non-COVID-19-related deaths to avoid masking any safety concerns regarding COVID-19 vaccine-related death with the protective effects of COVID-19 vaccine.
The study population included members of 7 Vaccine Safety Datalink sites: Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Kaiser Permanente Colorado, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Kaiser Permanente Washington, HealthPartners in Minnesota, and Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin.
The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines require 2 doses for full vaccination, while the Johnson & Johnson adenoviral vector vaccine requires only one dose. The 1-dose and 2-dose vaccines had different comparison groups due to differences in when the vaccines were available and potential differences in the demographics of people who chose the 1- or 2-dose vaccines. All analyses were adjusted for age, sex, race, ethnicity, and Vaccine Safety Datalink site.
This study was funded through the Vaccine Safety Datalink under a contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Vaccine Safety Datalink was established more than 30 years ago and includes approximately 3% of the U.S. population. Each participating site regularly prepares standardized data files containing information on demographics, health plan enrollment, births, vaccinations, mortality, and health care utilization. With computerized and standardized data, researchers have been able to combine data from multiple sites and conduct large observational vaccine safety studies while maintaining member confidentiality.
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve approximately 12.5 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.