4 Tips: How to help the elderly stay safe despite a decline in COVID-19 infection rates

We are now more than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, and many of us are starting to finally return to our normal routines. The COVID-19 vaccine started rolling out in December of 2020, and by now, nearly 35 percent of the U.S. population has been vaccinated. 

“A vaccine is not a suit of armor,” stressed Pride PHC Vice-President Andy Cruz. “Most of the vaccines are about 90 percent effective. That means they won’t work for one out of every ten people.”

That said, if you do contract the virus and you have been vaccianted, your symptoms should not be nearly as bad as if you were not vaccinated. Whether you were vaccinated or not, now is certainly not the time for the elderly to let their guard down when it comes to the pandemic.

#1 Hospitalization rates and death rates among the elderly have fallen

Those of you with underlying health conditions as well as the elderly are most at risk of developing a severe illness or dying from the coronavirus. “With improved therapeutics and treatment, and the introduction and distribution of COVID- 19 vaccines, fewer and fewer people, including the elderly, are coming down with severe illness from the virus,” said Cruz. 

The British Medical Journal recently reported that covid-19 infections fell by two thirds from mid-January of 2021 to mid-February of 2021, among all ages including those over 65. Fewer infections also results in fewer hospitalizations and deaths. Vaccines however are still your best protection. 

#2 Coronavirus vaccinations are still available

If you have not been vaccinated,  the supply of available vaccines is now outpacing demand. One month ago it may not have been easy for you to get a COVID-19 vaccine or even a vaccination appointment. But with demand dropping significantly, it should be much easier to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Call your primary care physician if you have any questions about any of the vaccines or where you should go to get them,” said Cruz. 

On May 11, the Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to include people ages 12 to 15https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/10/health/pfizer-vaccine-eua-12-15-teens/index.html  The vaccine has been authorized previosly for anyone age 16 and older. With this authorization, anyone age 12 or older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. 

Remember, if you get the first dose of any of the two-dose vaccines, you must go back to get the second dose to be considered “fully vaccinated.” You are afforded the most protection against COVID-19 once you receive two vacciantions.

#3 The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is back

For several weeks, the FDA and CDC pulled the Johnson and Johnson vaccine from distribution, in response to reports of severe blood clots in the brain in younger women. “After carefully studying the possible link between the vaccine and the blood clots, the two organizations have decided to put the vaccine back into distribution with a warning,” said Cruz. 

15 women who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine died shortly after their vaccinations because of severe blood clots. More than 7 million people had received the vaccine when its distribution was suspended, making the odds of any type of severe blood clot resulting in hospitalization or death extremely low. The CDC and FDA say the benefits of the vaccine clearly outweigh the risks. 

#4 Medical experts say the coronavirus vaccines are safe

If you are still on the fence about getting a coronavirus vaccine, medical experts, more importantly the FDA and CDC, have said the vaccines are safe. The CDC says “Vaccine Safety is a vital part of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As vaccines are developed and become available, the public’s knowledge of their safety, both initially and during extended use, is an important part of a successful national vaccination effort.” 

All of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available have been given Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA after going through all necessary phases of clinical trials to prove their effectiveness and safety. 

Remember, if you are among those who have been fully vaccinated already, you may be required to wear your mask indoors in most places, and around those who have not been vaccinated. And with less than 50 percent of the country still not fully vaccinated, the pandemic will still go on for quite a while, but it isn’t looking nearly as dire as it was before the vaccines became available. 

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