United Kingdom

A FIFTH of Americans aged 65 and older have still not gotten their Covid shots, CDC data show

Coronavirus vaccines are now open to all Americans above the age of 16, but some of the most vulnerable are still not protected.

About one-fifth of adults aged 65 or older in the U.S. have not yet received at least one dose, federal data show.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 80.1 percent have received at least one dose and 64.9 percent are fully vaccinated. 

Health experts say that there are likely several factors at play including lack of access in some communities, vaccine hesitancy and appointment cancellations due to pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

CDC data show that 80.1% of adults aged 65 and older have received at least one vaccine dose, meaning one-fifth are still not vaccinated

Experts say older people may be too uncomfortable or intimidated to go to a mass vaccination site and that more doses need to be send to local providers and grocery stores

Dr Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida, told The New York Times that opening up vaccine eligibility has benefits and drawbacks.

While it will likely lead to the set-up of more mass vaccination sites, older people may feel too uncomfortable or intimidated to visit a large center.  

'I think there are some folks who want to get the vaccine, but they're still very worried about getting exposed to other people,' she said.

'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."'

One factor is the stalling of several state- and local-run homebound vaccine programs following the pause of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. 

In New York City alone, at least 4,000 appointments had to be rescheduled after the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended the rollout be halted due to reports of blood clots. 

Experts add that more effort is also needed to have appointments available at local businesses rather than far-away mass vaccination sites.

For example, many of Alaska's Native villages have among the highest Covid vaccination rates in the U.S., with at least one community reporting a rate as high as 80 percent. 

Much of the success is due to residents getting shots from providers they know and at convenient locations, including their homes and grocery stores.  

Prins told The Times that bringing vaccine doses into communities would help drive up vaccination rates even further.

'There may be people who are not necessarily homebound, but maybe they don't drive,' Prins said. 

'Maybe it's not easy and convenient for them to get somewhere to get vaccinated.'

Another factor is also vaccine hesitancy.

In a recent AARP survey, adults who indicated they were unlikely to get a COVID-19 vaccine said they feared side effects and had doubts about the shot's efficacy.  

Dr Lisa Cooper, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, told The Times that younger family members can help bring in older vaccine hesitant adults.

She recommends that officials encourage children and grandchildren to arrive to appointments with parents and grandparents.  

'We need to start asking the younger folks: "Where's your mom? Your grandmother? Have they all gotten their vaccines yet? If not, we've got several slots, and we want your whole family here,"' she said.     

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