While health misinformation and vaccination fatigue continue to dissuade many Americans from receiving the COVID shot, a new study demonstrates the vaccine’s effectiveness against hospital stays among older adults.
According to the study, the COVID shot was 70.7% effective against hospitalization and 73.3% effective in preventing admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) among those aged 60 and older. The data indicated heightened effectiveness against hospital and ICU admission within the first two months of vaccination.
Yet vaccination rates among the older adult population are on the decline. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 37% of adults aged 75 or older have been vaccinated against COVID. The statistics aren’t much better for influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — only 34% of adults aged 65 plus have received the flu vaccine and 17% of adults aged 60 plus report having received an RSV vaccine. COVID and RSV rates are similarly low among the nursing home resident population, with only the flu vaccine rate being higher at 72%.
Moreover, a recent study of more than 40,000 immunocompromised individuals showed that only 41% had received four doses of COVID vaccine, with a mere 1% receiving five doses.
Key to increasing the number of older adults getting vaccinated is effective communication and leadership. To that end, a recent editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine calls for the CDC to go beyond providing data and “implement new health communication strategies that use a full palette of techniques to build vaccine literacy and encourage greater acceptance.”
Industry advocates agree. Effective healthcare leadership, vocal public officials, and new educational efforts are essential to improving vaccine rates, according to the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL). Argentum concurs. “We need to continue to emphasize how serious these respiratory viruses can be for our residents, who tend to have multiple comorbidities and chronic conditions, putting them at greater risk for serious complications, and even death. At this point, so many people have made up their minds on vaccination, and trying to get folks to reconsider is an uphill task.”
To increase inoculation coverage, the CDC offers older adult outreach information, as does AHCA/NCAL’s #Get Vaccinated site.