Older Washingtonians should get Covid vaccinations before all adults are eligible, health officials urge
An estimated 330,000 older Washingtonians have not been vaccinated against Covid-19, even though they’re eligible.
Officials hope that population will proceed with getting vaccinated before April 15, when all people 16 and older will qualify for vaccines and the demand for appointments is expected to significantly increase.
Despite the state's progress in vaccination rates, many adults 65 and older, who have been eligible since January 18, are not getting the shots.
Health officials are concerned because the risk for severe illness increases with age. At a recent press briefing, Gov. Jay Inslee said they're in the "danger zone."
The reasons for not getting vaccinated are complex; vaccine hesitancy is one of them. Successfully booking an appointment and getting there are additional challenges, particularly for older adults who may not be as savvy with technology.
State Health Secretary Umair Shah said there are alternatives for signing up, including the state's Covid-19 assistance hotline, which can be reached at 1-800-525-0127.
"If you know an older adult who’s not been vaccinated, or [is] not sure about getting one, we’d ask you to talk to them, encourage them,” Shah said.
The Department of Health also notes that overall, women are more likely to be vaccinated than men. That doesn't surprise Assistant Secretary Michele Roberts.
"Women are often health care decision makers for their families," Roberts said. "And first usually to schedule appointments."
Health officials say getting vaccinated is critical as Covid cases continue to rise, and more people are gathering for spring festivities, setting the scene for a possible fourth wave.
Currently, all adults 60 and older are eligible for vaccines in Washington.