older woman about to get a shot from a healthcare worker

As COVID-19 vaccinations among high-risk populations begin this week, more than one in three seniors (36%) now say they plan to wait to get the vaccine, according to a new survey from insurance firm GoHealth. The survey also found that an additional 24% of seniors either don’t plan to or aren’t sure whether they will get vaccinated. 

The speed with which the vaccine was developed is the source for much of the distrust, the survey found. Older adults who plan to delay their vaccination said they would prefer to see whether the first version of the vaccine works. They also expressed concerns about its safety and potential side effects. Nearly 60% of Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older also said they were willing to wait until a later version of the vaccine is available.

GoHealth’s survey included responses from more than 1,500 Americans aged 18 and older and was conducted online Nov. 25 to 30.

“The mortality rate from COVID-19 in people age 75 and older has been estimated to be one in seven, so helping seniors to understand the importance of the vaccine will be critical to saving lives,” Paul Hain, chief medical officer at GoHealth, told the McKnight’s Business Daily

“The good news is that, across generations, most Americans plan to continue with practicing safety protocols in their daily life even after the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available,” he said. “Regularly wearing masks, frequent hand washing and continued social distancing will ensure we’re not only protecting ourselves, but also populations that may be hesitant to get a vaccine immediately.”