Amid the latest spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the United States hit a milestone on Tuesday, August 3, that some thought was unattainable: 90% of people 65 and older are at least partially vaccinated against the disease. .
This is more than 49 million older adults vaccinated.
Overall, 70% of all adults (ages 18 and over) have been vaccinated, at least in part, and nearly 68% of people over the age of 12.
“This really shows that our elders are wiser than the rest,” said Dr. David Wohl, professor in the division of infectious diseases and director of vaccination clinics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
Wohl said the political leanings that have skewed vaccination rates across the country have had much less of an impact on older adults. “The threat of covid-19 has been so real for those over 65 that it transcends many of the other problems that complicate vaccination,” he said. “Wisdom and fear have really led to impressive immunization rates.”
The pandemic has been especially cruel to older adults. Almost 80% of the deaths occurred among people 65 years of age and older. Homes and other long-term care facilities were hit hard, with many banning family members and other visitors, isolating residents.
Even older adults living in their own homes had to isolate themselves from family and friends to protect themselves from the coronavirus. So when vaccines became available in December, many states focused first on older people.
That effort has been successful, although rates vary between states. Hawaii, Pennsylvania and Vermont have already vaccinated more than 99% of their older adults, while West Virginia ranks last, with 78%.
In Connecticut, 96% of people 65 and older are vaccinated against covid. “I didn’t think we would get that high, and I’m really satisfied,” said Dr. Thomas Balcezak, medical director of Yale New Haven Health. “But until everyone is vaccinated, older people are still at some risk, although their risk of serious illness or death is much lower.”
He added that older adults clearly heard the message that they were in danger from covid and that the vaccine could help. “But saying that older people are most at risk is a double-edged sword in terms of message,” said Balcezak. “It can give young adults a false sense of security.”
Among the five hospitals in the Yale health system they had 57 covid patients as of Monday, Aug. 2, he said. By contrast, in April 2020, when the virus was taking hold across the country, the system had around 850 covid patients.
Another factor in the successful drive to inoculate older adults is that they have been more exposed to vaccines, Wohl said. Doctors generally advise older people to get vaccinated against flu, pneumonia, shingles, and other diseases that are especially dangerous for them.
And many likely remember getting the polio vaccine when it first came out in the 1950s.
“This is not his first encounter with vaccines,” Wohl said.
In contrast, many young adults may not have been vaccinated in several decades since they received their mandatory vaccinations before elementary school, he said.
Hesitation among some unvaccinated young adults seems solid. A KFF survey published Wednesday the 4th found that 53% of unvaccinated adults believe that vaccines pose a greater risk to their health than COVID itself.
Only about a quarter of those who have not yet received a vaccine said they will likely be vaccinated by the end of the year, according to the survey of 1,517 adults conducted between July 15 and 27.
On vaccinating older adults, Jen Kates, senior vice president at KFF said “it is an incredibly significant milestone, given the devastating impact of covid-19 on this group.”
He added that “achieving this goal is probably a combination of several key things. First, the older people were scared – they saw the impact on their group. Second, they were the first group targeted by the Covid-19 vaccine distribution. And third, the push to vaccinate older people came from all quarters, Republicans and Democrats, national, state and local. This was a concerted effort on a level that we have not seen for most other population groups. “
Dr. Mark Roberts, a professor and former chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, cautioned that the success of the vaccination push among older people does not mean that others in this age group may become complacent and believe that they are protected through herd immunity.
“Herd immunity is a local phenomenon,” he said. “If the people around you are not vaccinated in your local bubble, you have not achieved herd immunity.”
Officials from AARP, which has been running an education campaign to vaccinate older adults, said the 90% threshold marks a major victory, but stressed that the campaign is not over.
“This is a true vaccine distribution success story,” said Bill Walsh, AARP vice president of communication, who leads the organization’s covid efforts. “90% is a great number, but we want everyone to get vaccinated.”
This article was originally posted on “Wisdom and fear” lead 90% of seniors in the US to get vaccinated against covid