As the country is expecting some relief due to COVID-19 vaccines making their way across the country, an unexpected trend is occurring. Sprawled across the country, long lines to erected tents can be found with older adults waiting hours to receive the highly sought-after vaccines–and those are the ones who managed to get appointments. CNN reports that experts are attributing this phenomenon to the divide of “haves” and “have-nots” among older adults (i.e., technological gaps or lack of social support). This troubling trend is getting the attention of not only older adults’ families, but also leading scientists in the country.
The divide of those who can receive the vaccine easily and those who cannot is occurring because of a multitude of intertwined factors. For example, COVID-19 vaccines are being administered in locations that are not readily accessible, even across a city or county border, which is a barrier for older adults who may rely on public transportation. The technological divide is also contributing to the vaccine divide; older adults who are comfortable with computers and internet services are receiving notices to register for the appointments online, leaving those who have do not have broadband access to miss out on the early call appointments to secure a spot and skip the long lines. Experts assert that this divide must be adjusted for older adults who are not tech-savvy, in addition to older adults who do not have financial resources and social support to secure appointments online or travel to a vaccination site.
Until this divide is handled on an administrative level, local and government officials are advocating for change from bottom to top; Yanira Cruz, the CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging, suggests that vaccines need to be brought to the older adults, as opposed to older adults finding ways to get to the vaccines. Officials like Dr. XinQi Dong, Director of the Institute for Health Policy and Aging Research, are adamantly expressing their concern for the barriers that are preventing older adults to the COVID-19 vaccine.
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Graham J. Older adults without family or friends lag in race to get coronavirus vaccines. CNN.com https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/29/health/older-adults-vaccine-lag-khn/index.html. Accessed February 4, 2021.