A big new push to vaccinate older Americans


Clarksdale, Miss (AP) — The first hurdle was to get on the bus. 74-year-old Linda Busby hesitated outside the community center where the elderly were loading their luggage to get the coronavirus vaccine.

“I was scared, don’t be afraid to say that,” Basby said on Wednesday after getting her shot of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine after encouragement from staff and her brothers. “At first I thought I wouldn’t get it. No one likes to take shots.”

Basby’s hesitation is that the Biden administration and state allies are fighting one at a time, as the White House is calling on older people to be vaccinated. Vaccination rates for this top priority group have leveled off despite expanding supply.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 76% of Americans over the age of 65 have been vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 vaccine since its approval in December. However, the proportion of new vaccinations among the most vulnerable groups to the harmful consequences of the virus has dropped dramatically.

This is not only the potential for preventable deaths and serious illnesses in the elderly in the coming months, but also a source of growing concern about what could bring to the wider population of the United States. is.

“I want to appeal directly to my seniors and everyone who cares for them,” said President Joe Biden on Tuesday, citing “incredible progress,” but declared that it was still not enough.

“It’s easy. Elderly people, it’s time to vaccinate now. Vaccine now.”

Government estimates indicate that approximately 12.9 million senior Americans have not yet received their first shot. They were the first age group to prioritize shots, but over 23% of people over the age of 75 have not yet been vaccinated.

Supply constraints initially slowed the pace of vaccination for older people, but not for months for people in the high-priority age group.Instead, officials say the slowdown is caused by a mixture of problems from People who have difficulty finding an inoculation site For vaccine repellent.

To fill the gap, all obstacles in the elderly, such as technical, transportation and personal hesitation, need to be considered. .. “

This is a potential precursor to the challenges associated with other demographic groups.All adult Americans Will be vaccinated in the next 2 weeksAlthough the process of managing enough shots to start returning to “normal” takes months longer. Many states maintain priority vaccination systems or dedicated distribution channels to keep older people who want vaccines at the forefront, even if they open the door to eligibility.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, predicts that 75% to 85% of the population may need to be vaccinated to reach “herd immunity.” Put an end to the outbreak in the United States

This is one of the reasons the White House and the state have moved to strengthen support programs and public education campaigns for the elderly.

Markwood said the government’s $ 1.9 trillion rescue plan to provide the necessary funding “to get out and do more intensive, sometimes one-on-one outreach,” “it’s the last one. It’s miles and the last group to need additional help … it will take that extra outreach and time. “

More help is on the way.

Starting next week, the government will undertake a $ 100 million effort through the Department of Health and Human Services to fund community organizations that provide “high-intensity” support to endangered older people and people with disabilities. start. This includes booking reservations, traveling to vaccination sites, and assisting with other support throughout the vaccination process.

A similar program is already underway at the state level.

In Clarksdale, Mississippi, the state hosted the first ever mobile vaccination for seniors returning on Wednesday. Here, Bus picked up Busby outside the Senior Day Care and Community Center next to a low-income housing complex for the elderly.

When Basby barked, the staff recommended joining a group waiting for her to board. She later said that the main motivational factor for her to get a shot was the support of her brother who called her to encourage her to be vaccinated.

“I’ll call him as soon as I get home and let him know what I’ve done,” she said when she returned to the bus and back to the community center.

Older people are actually less hesitant than many. According to an AP-NORC poll in late March, 11% of Americans over the age of 65 probably or definitely will not be vaccinated. It is compared to 25% of all adults.

The White House has repeatedly pointed out family and community leaders as the best verifiers to overcome hesitation. Recognizing that access concerns span demographic groups, more vaccination sites are being created near homes. On Wednesday, the White House announced that all more than 1,400 federal-qualified community health centers would be able to start vaccination. We are also aiming to expand mobile vaccine clinics.

The disproportionate number of unvaccinated older people comes from the black and Latino communities, or those who do not have easy access to health care, said Kathleen Cameron, senior director of the National Center for Aging and Health and Aging. He said it reflects wider population disparities. And about 6% of the elderly are returning home.

“These are the most difficult to reach people and are the ones we need to work hardest to get to the vaccination center or bring the vaccine to them.” She said.

Aaron E in Clarksdale. Henry Community Health Services Center Inc. Aurelia Jones-Taylor, CEO of Aurelia Jones-Taylor, said that one of the great help in vaccination of older people, and in some cases the barrier, is the family. Some people encourage relatives, help them get into the clinic, and make sure they take shots.

However, in many cases young families were given false information about the vaccine and Discourage older relatives from getting it.. Apart from that, older people are not familiar with social media and live alone, which can be difficult to reach.

“They are stuck in the house and afraid,” said Jones Taylor. “We have to overcome our fears.”

According to the CDC, older people are 1,300 to 8,700 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than 5 to 17 years old, depending on their age, and more than 80% of the 559,000 deaths from the virus in the United States. Occupy.

One of the great help in Mississippi, especially among the elderly, is the encouragement of the pastoral and church communities, Jones Taylor said.

“That’s the most important thing,” she said. “That’s the one they’re listening to.”

Julia Ford, 71, spends most of her days at the SLA Jones Rev. Activity Center. She said her faith was the main motivating factor for vaccination.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do —’I get it or not?” I told the Lord to give me an understanding of it, “he said. Said Ford, whose brother died of the virus. “I thought about that verse.’Everything made was made by him.’Nothing was made other than what was made by him. He made the virus and detoxified it. I made an antidote. “


Miller reported from Washington.