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Why Are Vaccination Rates Higher in Older Americans?

COVID-19 has caused great concern among parents and healthcare providers alike. While vaccination rates have risen steadily over time, it’s also clear that some demographics are less likely than others to get vaccinated. An examination of vaccination data shows that older adults have received far more COVID-19 vaccinations than their younger counterparts.

In the United States, over 80% of people who have reached the age of 65 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. According to the CDC, about 20 percentage points of the country’s overall vaccination rate are held down by younger age groups. The rate for people 12 and older is 71%, but only 60% are fully vaccinated.

One of the reasons for the higher rates could be the fact that back in December, anyone age 65 or older was automatically eligible to receive the vaccine, while younger adults had to wait for more. People over age 65 became eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at earlier dates, so they have had more time to get vaccinated. Another reason is the fact that, even though the Covid-19 vaccines are free, people with insurance are more likely to get vaccinated. Having health insurance is correlated with higher vaccination rates — and most Americans over 65 are eligible for insurance through Medicare.

The chances of a severe Covid-19 illness or death for young people are comparatively less, but vaccination is still important. Health experts, such as Dr. Tim Farrell, the chair of the American Geriatrics Society’s Ethics Committee, believe that young adults should get vaccinated to protect the older generations:

 “What does the young owe the old? What does the old owe the young? The older adults were the ones who were sitting home, and a lot of them were isolated for a year or more. They stayed home; they got vaccinated, they did their fair share. I think it’s time for some reciprocation.”

Mary J. Payne
Mary has over 10 years of experience as a journalist. She loves to travel and write about her experiences, but she also covers topics such as education, career advice and finances.