Summoning seniors: Big new push to vaccinate older Americans
Apr 07, 2021 1 min, 37 secs
Seventy-four year old Linda Busby hesitated outside a community center where older people were loading up to go get the coronavirus vaccine.

“It’s simple: Seniors, it’s time for you to get vaccinated now.

Instead, officials say, the slowdown is caused by a mix of issues, from people having difficulty finding and getting to inoculation sites to vaccine hesitancy.

Closing the gap will require taking into account all the obstacles for seniors, be they technological, transportation or personal hesitance, said Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, who acknowledged the vaccination rates “for older adults has somewhat plateaued.”.

Beginning next week, the administration is launching a $100 million effort to fund community organizations providing “high-intensity” support to at-risk seniors and those with disabilities through the Department of Health and Human Services.

That includes assistance with booking appointments, traveling to vaccination sites and other support through the vaccination process.

In Clarksdale, Mississippi, the state hosted its first-ever mobile vaccinations for homebound older adults on Wednesday.

“I’m going to call him as soon as I get home, and let him know I did it,” she said, as she got back on the bus to return to the community center.

According to an AP-NORC poll in late March, 11% of Americans aged 65 or older say they probably or definitely won’t get vaccinated.

It is also moving to create more vaccination sites closer to homes, recognizing that access concerns span demographic groups.

A disproportionate number of unvaccinated seniors are from Black or Latino communities, or from people without easy access to health care, said Kathleen Cameron, senior director of the National Council on Aging’s Center for Healthy Aging, mirroring disparities in the broader population.

in Clarksdale, said one of the major helps — but sometimes barriers — to getting older adults vaccinated is family members.

One major help in Mississippi – especially among older adults – is the encouragement of pastors and church communities, Jones-Taylor said.

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