'Little Bit of a Strange Situation' With Universal Vaccine Rollout

About 20% of those 65 and older still haven't received a shot, and challenges remain
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2021 7:27 AM CDT
All Adults Can Get Vaccine, but First in Line Still Face Hurdles
A 74-year-old woman receives a COVID shot on April 7, 2021, in Clarksdale, Miss.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Monday was the day that every American 16 and over became eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, adding to the promising news that more than half of the adult US population has received at least one dose. But even though older adults in particular are now the most vaccinated demographic in the country, a worrisome number hovers: About 20% of those 65 and older have yet to receive an initial dose, including those in long-term care facilities, where a significant percentage of deaths in the nation have taken place, reports the New York Times. And it may continue to be a struggle for the older set to get their vaccinations, with NBC San Diego noting such continuing challenges as seniors not having the access or know-how to set up appointments online, or not being able to secure transportation to vaccination sites, as well as being homebound completely due to illness or other reasons.

The Times points out additional factors, including possible hesitancy among the older set to get the vaccine, as well as issues tied to the new universal eligibility: With so many adults now competing for slots, supplies are limited in some areas, and vulnerable seniors may also be hesitant to head out to possibly crowded vaccination sites. "It's a little bit of a strange situation where we're like, 'Stay away from everyone, but please come here to our massive vaccine clinic,'" a University of Florida epidemiologist tells the paper, adding that some of those older patients may be waiting for their own doctors to offer the vaccine. Some areas are trying to remedy these issues by setting up house calls for the homebound, or by encouraging younger people to step up to help older Americans. "We need to start asking the younger folks, 'Where's your mom? Your grandmother? Have they all gotten their vaccines yet?'" says Dr. Lisa Cooper, head of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity. (More coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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