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Since vaccines became widely available, fewer than 1% of deaths from COVID-19 have occurred among people who have been fully immunized against the disease. To find a vaccination location, visit Graphic by Aaron Warnick

Nearly all COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. are among people who have not been vaccinated against the disease, underscoring the critical importance of getting more people immunized.

“Preliminary data from several states over the last few months suggest that 99.5% of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States were in unvaccinated people,” said Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at a July 8 COVID-19 task force briefing. “Those deaths were preventable with a simple, safe shot.”

Since January, when protection from the vaccine began rising, more than 234,000 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19, according to CDC data. 

While tragic, the findings show that vaccination is working and should be the norm for everyone in the U.S. who is eligible to receive their shots. A July 7 issue brief from the Commonwealth Fund found the rapid U.S. COVID-19 vaccination campaign has saved 279,000 lives and averted up to 1.25 million hospitalizations.

As of July 4, two out of three U.S. adults had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot.

“As a country, we're closer than ever to ending this pandemic and getting back to normal,” Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said during the news briefing. “But the sad reality is that despite our progress, we're still losing people to this virus, which is especially tragic even at this point. It is unnecessary and preventable.”

Across the U.S., COVID-19 cases increased in mid-July for the first time in months — with the number of new cases doubling from three weeks prior. Increased vaccine uptake among people that have avoided the vaccine so far and further work to vaccinate teens will be critical to hold off another deadly wave, experts say.

To encourage vaccinations, watch and share a new video featuring APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin.