More than 373,000 American lives have been lost due to COVID and nearly 95% of those who have died were age 50 and over. Here in Washington, nearly 3,800 people have died, with older people and their families hit hard by the virus.
The situation in nursing homes is particularly dire. Residents and staff of nursing homes account for nearly 40% of all COVID deaths, though they are less than 1% of the population. And then there are our hospitals, which are under tremendous strain. According to the CDC, people ages 50 to 64 with COVID are four times more likely to end up in the hospital than their younger counterparts, and worryingly, at 30 times greater risk for death. If you are 65 to 74 years old, the risks are even higher.
Clearly, states vaccination plans must prioritize the most vulnerable. That includes older Washingtonians who are at much higher risk of death to COVID. And, we need to ensure residents and staff of long-term care facilities can receive vaccinations as soon as possible to prevent further loss of life.
Transparency is critical to an effective vaccine plan to make sure our distribution systems are functioning like they should, to know what’s working and what’s not. We must ensure that every Washingtonian who wants a vaccine can receive one.
AARP is encouraged by early state guidelines on vaccine distribution prioritizing those in long-term care facilities, those age 70+, and those age 50+ in multigenerational households or with underlying conditions placing them at greater risk. We also sent a recent letter to Washington State Governor Jay Inlsee urging the prioritization of all those age 50+, as well as a focus on those who receive long-term services and supports in their own homes and communities.
As the situation evolves, we will be posting information on our website and providing information to members. To get the most up-to-date information from AARP Washington please visit our state and national COVID resource pages.
Friday, Feb 26, 2021 at 4:00pm Eastern Time
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