Prioritize Older Adults in Vaccine Distribution

Posted on 01/11/21

AARP Oregon Letter to Governor Kate Brown January 11, 2021

Dear Governor Brown,

AARP Oregon on behalf of our 503,000 members and all older Oregonians appreciates the efforts you have undertaken to address the unprecedented public health and economic crisis we face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines are shipped across the country, it will be critical to ramp up production and distribution so that everyone who wishes to be vaccinated can do so.  Until that time, we acknowledge the many challenges the state must confront in determining how to equitably, safely and effectively distribute COVID-19 vaccines, and we offer the following recommendations.

Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 95 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 have been among people 50 and older. The data clearly show that the older people are, the higher risk they face if they contract COVID-19.  Given that older individuals are at a greater risk of death from COVID-19, we strongly urge you to ensure that Oregonians age 50 and older are prioritized to receive a vaccine.  These individuals must be given priority access to vaccines, in addition to those individuals receiving care in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

We also strongly urge the state to prioritize those individuals who receive long-term services and supports in their own homes and communities. For years, the long-term care system has been shifting away from institutional care in nursing homes to home and community-based settings (HCBS). Here in Oregon, more than 80% of older adults prefer to age in place at home in community. They are supported by nearly 500,000 unpaid family caregivers who help with activities of daily living, medical support, trips to medical facilities and more – receiving services traditionally provided in some congregate care settings. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to prioritize older people receiving care at home to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and the families who provide care.

In order to increase public awareness of vaccine allocations and improve confidence in a fair distribution process, it is important that all Oregonians have access to accurate and transparent information.  For those reasons, we urge you to regularly post on a public website information and updates on vaccine administration including:

  • the numbers and percentages of older  Oregonians by race and ethnicity that have been vaccinated;
  • a clear and easy-to-understand schedule of vaccine administration for all populations; and, the process by which individuals may seek and obtain a vaccine;
  • the numbers and percentages of long-term care residents, by facility, that have received their first and second doses of vaccines; and the numbers and percentages of long-term care staff, by facility, that have received their first and second doses of vaccines.

Finally, AARP Oregon urges you to ensure that all providers are fully complying with established state procedures for vaccine distribution and prioritization.  We urge you to investigate and take swift action against anyone who attempts to commit fraud, including by inappropriately selling the vaccine or intentionally providing vaccines to those who do not meet qualifying criteria in an attempt to circumvent the distribution process.  Public confidence in the vaccine and its fair distribution is dependent on the state’s strong oversight and enforcement.

We cannot stress enough how eager people are in Oregon to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, which offers so much promise for a return to normalcy. There is incredible demand from our members for more information about when and how they can get a vaccine. AARP  Oregon stands ready to work with you and support your efforts to get information to people as quickly as possible.

If you have questions or wish to discuss, please contact our communications director Joyce De Monnin at 971-242-9003 or jdemonnin@aarp.org.

Sincerely,

Edward Brewington

Volunteer State President

This story is provided by AARP Oregon. Visit the AARP Oregon page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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