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COVID-19 vaccines are no longer effective as infection rates are lowest among the unvaccinated in Scotland.

COVID-19 death rates are lowest in people who have had three vaccines. Vaccines reduce your risk of severe illness.

On Facebook, thousands of people are sharing a Herald article with a misleading headline that reads, "What is going on?: Covid rates lowest in unvaccinated as Omicron spread 'ignores the rules'." The news piece is behind a paywall, and its title does not provide any context about the hospitalization and deaths in the vaccinated compared to the unvaccinated.

The article references the latest Public Health Scotland COVID-19 report, which warns that summary data of COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations, and infections rates "[do] not assess the effectiveness of the vaccine."

In the summary section, the report shows that while infection rates have risen across all vaccine statuses, the age-standardization hospital and death rates remain the lowest in those who received a booster shot compared to double-dosed or unvaccinated people.

To reduce the impact of age and improve comparability in different groups, Public Health Scotland uses an age-standardized mortality rate (ASMR).

According to the report, the age-standardization case rate is highest in the double vaccinated and lowest in those who received the booster dose. However, it is important to note that the report specifies "on average, unvaccinated individuals are younger than individuals with two or more doses of COVID-19 vaccines."

Similarly, in the week ending January 7, 2022, the age-standardized hospitalization and death rates were highest in individuals with two vaccine doses. Still, this result does not mean that vaccines are ineffective.

Speaking to Logically, Public Health Scotland explained that a "higher overall number of COVID-19 related deaths among people who are vaccinated compared to those who are unvaccinated can be seen in our current weekly reporting due to the fact that over 90 percent of individuals in Scotland have had two doses of the vaccine against COVID-19. This is approaching 100 percent for the older age groups most at risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19 (also, around 90 percent of those aged 60 and over have now had the booster)."

The report reveals that the age-standardized mortality rate (ASMR) at 0.21 per 100,000 is the lowest in those who have received three vaccine doses. On the other hand, the ASMR in the unvaccinated rate is 4.79.

Public Health Scotland asserts that once you consider factors including population size and age difference, you find that the "vaccinated individuals are far less likely to die from COVID-19 infection than unvaccinated individuals."

The Herald's headline could mistakenly lead people to believe that COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective when in actuality, they are the best way to protect people from the effects of the deadly virus.

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