When the first COVID-19 vaccines were approved in mid-December, the world breathed a collective sigh of relief. This is especially true for the residents and staff of long-term care facilities who – after months of being ravaged by death – were slated to be among the first to receive the vaccine. However, this is not happening as swiftly and efficiently as originally anticipated, according to geriatricians.
As of mid-January, it is estimated that less than half of the 2.3 million residents and staff in care facilities have received the first dose of the vaccine. This is weeks behind initial assertations that the majority of elderly individuals would be inoculated by the beginning of the year.
AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins has necessitated increased transparency and clarification surrounding the vaccination of older Americans.
“The supply of the vaccine does not come close to meeting the current demand,” Jenkins wrote. “We are also concerned about distribution problems and we strongly urge you to immediately address whatever barriers may be causing the delays. Full-scale mobilization is necessary, and any slowdowns or early bottlenecks in the production and distribution systems need to be urgently addressed.”
This is particularly troubling after almost every state had supposedly pushed long-term care residents and staff to the front of their distribution lines.
In order to supply and administer doses to the high-risk, elderly population, the federal government partnered with national pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens. Despite this program’s theoretical efficiency, it has been off to a resoundingly slow start.
The prominent problems include miscommunication, the bustle of the holiday season, and remaining skepticism of the vaccine. While a recent poll found that 76% of older Americans want to be vaccinated, some are holding onto uncertainty about potential side effects of the vaccine.
“In order to increase public awareness of vaccine allocation decisions and improve confidence in a fair distribution process, it is important that we all have access to accurate, timely, and transparent information,” Jenkins said.
In addition to this call for clarity, AARP is assembling state-by-state vaccine guides, so your loved ones know when, how, and where to be vaccinated.
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