Although the White House has announced that nearly 90% of U.S. adults would be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in the coming weeks and despite a record-setting Saturday (April 3) when more than 4 million Americans received a vaccination shot, there are still disparities between groups receiving the life-saving vaccines — this time, it’s among older women.
According to new data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, men over the age of 65 are significantly more likely to have received at least one dose of the approved COVID-19 vaccines than women in the same age bracket.
Shefali Luthra of nonprofit newsroom The 19th has reported that, based on the Kaiser report, “only 59% of older women reported getting at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.” In contrast, she reported that “70% of older men said they had gotten at least one immunization.”
The gap between sexes shows just how difficult the vaccination campaign remains in America among certain groups. “The Kaiser Family Foundation poll suggests the gender gap stems almost entirely from differences in who has tried to sign up for a shot,” Luthra reported. “More than a quarter of senior women — about 26% — said they had not tried to book a vaccine appointment, compared with only 17% of senior men who said the same.”
Ashley Kirzinger, a pollster at the Kaiser Family Foundation who worked on the study, told Luthra that older women aren’t just resisting putting in the time and energy often needed to secure a vaccination slot, they also appear to have more serious concerns about the various vaccines’ safety and effectiveness.
“About 11% of older women say they will definitely not get a coronavirus vaccine, compared with only 4% of older men,” Kirzinger told Luthra.
Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health services warn that this increased hesitancy to take the vaccine among certain groups may drastically undercut medical efforts to slow the spread of the disease and could make it more difficult for us to reach a “herd immunity,” where transmission of the virus slows significantly. They also caution that it may take specialized public health campaigns and increased government efforts to encourage those with doubts to go through with the vaccination process.
Currently, the CDC estimates that about 73% of adults 65 and older have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. According to CDC data, roughly 146 million vaccines have been administered in the U.S. and about 15.8% of Americans are fully vaccinated.