There remain a few wrinkles to iron out on the COVID-19 vaccination front. Among them: many older adults — those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic — still have not been vaccinated. That is according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report. Further anxiety-producing is the possibility of a growing divide among seniors who have internet access and transportation to vaccine appointments and those who do not.
And the elephant in the room remains vaccine hesitancy among both seniors and home care workers. According to the Home Care Association of America, only about 34% of caregivers planned to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Fortunately, there are concerted efforts underway to address some of these concerns. The major home care associations, for example, have launched campaigns to raise awareness among home care workers about the importance of receiving vaccinations. One of the latest, Be Wise. Immunize., from the Partnership for Medicaid Home-Based Care, aims to provide clear, straightforward information to home care workers about the vaccines and how they were developed.
“PMHC supports the heroic efforts of the home care workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said David J. Totaro, PMHC chairman. “It is essential that home care aides receive the vaccine to protect themselves, their families, and their clients. The website outlines the facts about the vaccine and its benefits.”
On the question of access among seniors, Uber and Walgreens this week announced an agreement to provide transportation to people to their COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
These sparks of light occur as the broader picture increasingly appears hopeful. As of Wednesday, nearly 34 million people, or a little more than 10% of the U.S. population, had received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson appears on the not-so-distant horizon. And the Biden administration appears to be driving to increase vaccinations. At the end of January, the president ordered 200 million more doses.
All taken together, it seems we are heading in the right direction. There, no doubt, will continue to be stumbling blocks. And knowing when so-called herd immunity will happen is far beyond my pay grade. But one thing seems clear: We are getting there.
Liza Berger is editor of McKnight’s Home Care. Write to her at [email protected] and follow her @LizaBerger19.