When Will Older Americans Get the COVID-19 Vaccine? | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly
In Florida, vaccines have technically been available to people 65 and older for more than two months and were opened to people 40 and up on March 29. In New Mexico, anyone 60 and older can get a vaccine, but residents younger than 75 were only made eligible in mid-March. States’ plans are evolving in real time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that states prioritize health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities — where 34 percent of the nation’s more than 546,000 COVID-19 deaths have occurred. Most followed those recommendations, though Florida and Georgia listed adults 65 and up in their top priority group, known as “Phase 1a” in many state vaccine plans.
Vaccine distribution after Phase 1a is where many states diverge. The CDC and the Biden administration recommend that vaccines gradually become available to older adults, since adults 65 and up account for 8 in 10 deaths attributed to COVID-19. The CDC also recommends states begin vaccinating certain types of essential workers, like police officers and grocery store workers, after working through Phase 1a. The Biden administration is also asking states to prioritize teachers; most states are already prioritizing them for vaccinations or will be soon.
A CDC advisory panel recommends that states place “frontline essential workers” — including police officers and postal employees — in their second phase of vaccine distribution (1b). But the actual vaccine plans are being drawn up by individual governors and state health officials, who aren’t obligated to follow CDC recommendations to a T.
Most states are currently grouping older adults in their second phase of vaccine distribution, referred to by many states as Phase 1b. But states haven’t agreed on age brackets. For instance, Montana is focusing on adults 70 and older, while West Virginia — which initially vaccinated residents at least 80 years of age — was focused on vaccinating those 50 and up before making doses available to the state’s entire adult population on March 22.
These differences have fed confusion about who can get vaccines and when they’ll be more widely available. Even in states that have for weeks offered vaccines to their older residents, getting a vaccine appointment is still a challenge. “There are complexities involved, and there’s going to be some learning as we go here,” says Megan O’Reilly, vice president for federal health and family issues at AARP, which is fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting COVID-19 vaccines.