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Senior Preferences for COVID-19 Vaccination Released with Tivity Health

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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted seniors nationwide, with this population at an increased risk of hospitalization or death following a COVID-19 diagnosis.

The pandemic has also worsened existing burdens on seniors’ mental and physical health through increased social isolation, reduced preventive care, and altered physical activity patterns. Many of these effects on seniors will be long lasting. Widespread COVID-19 vaccine uptake offers 1 step to move toward national recovery and requires a deep understanding of seniors’ concerns and perceptions of the vaccine to facilitate herd immunity.

In response to a lack of data on seniors’ needs and preferences related to the COVID-19 vaccine, Tivity Health fielded a targeted survey to its SilverSneakers newsletter subscribers in fall 2020. A total of 3,734 responses were received from respondents in 49 states. This survey assessed seniors’ perceptions across several key factors related to vaccine uptake:

  • Barriers and facilitators to uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Existing sentiments among respondents on similar vaccine adoption, such as flu and pneumonia vaccine uptake
  • Lived experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on seniors’ day-to-day lives
  • Reported influence of various governmental and non-governmental entities in seniors’ decision-making processes regarding vaccine adoption

Tivity Health collaborated with Avalere to summarize these findings in a white paper that outlines key considerations and implications for vaccine uptake among seniors. The review of survey responses yielded 5 key findings:

  1. Trusted Messengers Are Critical: Expert recommendations are not equal in compelling seniors to action regarding vaccine adoption. Primary care providers, health plans, and pharmacists wield outsized influence.
  2. Costs Require Further Clarity: Out-of-pocket costs associated with receiving the vaccine are not clear to seniors, which could delay their plans to get the vaccine.
  3. Rapid Development Contributed to Uncertainty: The speed of vaccine development is closely tied to concerns and/or skepticism for respondents from a range of political backgrounds.
  4. Concerns Regarding Side Effects Persist: Seniors expressed hesitancy to receive the vaccine depending on whether “major” or “minor” side effects are anticipated. Efforts to communicate the distinctions between side effects will be beneficial for seniors and their immediate families in guiding their decision-making process.
  5. Local Context Matters: Questions regarding plans for prioritization and vaccine availability remain, suggesting the need for targeted communications around local approaches to vaccine delivery. This is particularly relevant for specific high-risk groups.

These findings highlight seniors’ preferences and concerns related to the COVID-19 vaccine administration and uptake. These insights may prove useful as stakeholders consider mechanisms to address seniors’ needs and hesitations related to COVID-19 vaccine adoption and lay the foundation for long-term pandemic recovery.

Download the full white paper.

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