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Can 3rd Dose Vaccination Help Lower Death Risk?

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more


You read that right. We already knew that vaccinations are great for lowering the chances of getting hospitalised due to COVID-19. Now in a new study, getting a triple shot vaccination, ie., 3 doses of COVID vaccine are being reported to also reduce the risk of death by 93%!  

When compared with people who were unvaccinated vs people who received a triple vaccination for COVID-19, the latter had a much lower death rate. This reiterates the call that the medical community has been saying all along, vaccines are our biggest hope to get through the pandemic.

About the study  

The latest study comes out of the Office For National Statistics in the UK, a government affiliate office and official statistics reporter for the UK parliament. This study was conducted prior to the Omicron surge, hence the latest variant and its effects have not yet been measured in this context.  

The study was based on a large sample size of nearly 70,000 individuals, going over the risk of death based on whether the person was unvaccinated, had 2 shots or had completed 3 shots. The data has been calculated till the end of December 2021, hence it has not yet captured the bulk of the Omicron led wave in the UK. 

Here are some easy to digest figures that show just how important vaccinations are:

  • In June 2021, the risk of death for double vaccinated people vs unvaccinated was 99% lower.
  • From July onward, this number has reduced to 81%. This is because of Omicron and an increased number of susceptible demographics’ hesitancy in getting the jab.
  • People who got the third vaccination shot had a 93.4% lower risk of death compared with those who were not vaccinated. 
  • Some reports suggest the death risk for unvaccinated people to be approximately 462 per 100,000 in December.

Points to take away from this report

For most of this time, just getting two doses had significantly lowered the risk of death (vs unvaccinated). But with Omicron being more easily transmissible and the assumptions on the first two doses of vaccination losing some potency over time, the risk of death even for double vaccinated people started to climb. Also, it is imperative to understand that other factors like old age and comorbidities may also increase the risk of severe illness and hospitalisations in people with just one or two doses of vaccination.

The rollout of booster shots (or triple vaccinations) across England has brought down the risk of death significantly once more. This news is promising since it takes data from a very large sample. A heartwarming statistic from this report shows that the most vulnerable people (elderly adults) were found to have their risk of death lowered by a staggering 89% after getting their third shot!  

Another key takeaway is that this report once again shows why the pandemic is a numbers game. Even though most experts seem to agree that Omicron is milder, it still is highly transmissible. This means that many more people are likely to get infected and even if a small percentage of those people face hospitalisation or death, the number of deaths is still large. Here are some very quick maths for you:

  • As an analogue for the previous variants, let’s take a milder outlook
    • 10% deaths per 100,000 cases = 10,000 deaths 
  • As an analogue for Omicron, let’s see what happens when we increase the number of cases
    • 3% deaths for 500,000 cases = 15,000 deaths 

So yes, Omicron may be milder. But if large numbers of people get it, the risk of people dying is scary. Luckily, we now have some evidence and direction with this latest report.  

Countries with triple vaccination  

We can be grateful that the medical community around the world anticipated this very situation and have been preparing for the third vaccination process. The USA has been on a battlefield with the pandemic and has recently simplified the eligibility for getting the booster shot (along with a renewed push to increase testing). The UK is leading the front with over 80% of eligible people (over 18 years) having received their third jab. In the European Union, talks are still on for developing policies over the necessity of a triple vaccination. Israel has set a new path by calling for not just 3, but a fourth booster shot rollout. Meanwhile, Australia has reduced the time you need to wait to take your third dose. 


This latest report brings a mix of good and bad news. On one hand, the vaccinations we took are seemingly losing effectiveness against the new variants of COVID-19, which means we have to take every possible measure to reduce our risk of exposure to the virus even after getting the full course of vaccination. On the other hand, we already have precaution doses (third dose of vaccines) rolling out for senior citizens and healthcare workers in India. We know that getting vaccinated is not a 100% protection tool, but it is a very significant tool that helps enormously to lower the risk of hospitalisation and death due to COVID. Vaccination may also help in the long run to fight the Pandemic at the global level. As the virus evolves and the situation changes, we need to be ready to do what we can and get ahead of it. If you are eligible for a triple vaccination, get yours done as soon as you can and do not forget to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour.  

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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