In 11 States, Seniors' Low Vaccination Rates a 'Powder Keg' for New Cases
In states where vaccination rates are low, seniors who have not gotten a shot pose a public health risk as social-distancing restrictions are stripped away
MONDAY, June 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health experts warn there is a ticking time bomb in 11 states where 20 percent or more of seniors still have not received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Top priority for vaccinations was given to Americans aged 65 years and older because they are far more vulnerable to serious illness and death from the virus than younger people. Accordingly, this age group does have the highest rate of vaccination: 87 percent have received at least one dose compared with 60 percent for people aged 18 to 64 years and 31 percent for those aged 12 to 17 years, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.
But in the 11 states where vaccination rates are lower among seniors, those who have not received a shot pose a public health risk as social-distancing restrictions are stripped away. Most of the 11 states are in the South: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee, The New York Times reported. Georgia, Idaho, and Missouri are at the 20 percent threshold. West Virginia and Wyoming have more than 20 percent of people 65 years and older without one dose.
"The 20 percent lines up pretty well with a group of people, especially in the South, who say, 'No way, no how am I getting vaccinated,'" Michael Saag, M.D., associate dean for global health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told The Times. "Convincing them that it is in their own interest is a tough nut to crack. All epidemics are local at the end of the day, and transmission is person-to-person. There is going to be a hot pocket of transmission if someone becomes infected and others around them are unvaccinated. This is not Epidemiology 101, this is common sense."