As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a profound impact in our world, it is a harsh reality that one of our most vulnerable populations – our senior family members, friends, neighbors and community members – also are most likely to be at a higher risk of negative outcomes if they catch the virus.
Understanding Our Members
As a leading provider of fitness and healthy lifestyle solutions, Tivity Health has engaged with thousands of our SilverSneakers members responding from all 50 U.S. states to conduct a series of 13 Pulse Surveys over a ten month period revealing how the COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous changes in their lives; from social isolation to a disruption of trusted routines to physical and mental health challenges as a result of lack of exercise and social connections.
With each survey receiving hundreds to thousands of respondents, we have uncovered valuable insights capturing the voice of today’s senior.
As the U.S approves distribution to those who need a COVID-19 vaccine most, Tivity Health’s latest Pulse Survey of almost 4,000 SilverSneakers members seeks our seniors’ voice once again to unveil perceptions specific to vaccine uptake, uptake timing, perceived safety, distribution, and accurate sources of trusted information. The good news? Most seniors are confident that a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine will enable them to return to their regular activities.
Factors Influencing Vaccine Adoption
It was encouraging to hear that 85 percent of all respondents said they will take the vaccine at some point and about half plan to take it immediately or within one month of availability. Eighty-four percent of all respondents said they would prefer to receive the vaccine from their primary care provider (PCP), while 60 percent of respondents said they would be comfortable receiving the vaccine at a pharmacy or drugstore and 33 percent would receive the vaccine at a clinic or urgent care location. Seniors attribute greatest trust to federal health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and 78 percent feel their physician, health plan, and pharmacist are most trusted among non-governmental sources.
Factors Influencing Vaccine Rejection
Despite widespread public health messaging declaring that the vaccine will be free to Medicare beneficiaries, six in ten seniors expect to be charged for the vaccine. Seniors also fear that distribution and availability of the vaccine may not meet on-time demand. The number one reason for rejection, however, is potential side effects, according to 75 percent of seniors who do not plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Among seniors who do plan to take the vaccine, 50 percent would be a “lot less likely” to receive it if some people experience a major side effect.
Life Beyond COVID
Despite only 47 percent of respondents indicating they will take the COVID-19 vaccine within one month once available, 81 percent of all respondents indicated they have already received a flu vaccine, with 38 percent receiving the flu vaccine from a pharmacy or drug store. This is noteworthy to utilize best practices from flu vaccine education, awareness and distribution messaging to increase both acceptance and rate of adoption of the COVID-19 vaccine.
After 10+ months into the pandemic, this survey provides a snapshot of the seniors in our community and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 upon them. While encouraging to hear that most seniors plan to take the vaccine, as they believe it will protect themselves and the broader community, it will still take a coordinated and focused effort from our vaccine developers, healthcare providers, research partners and public health organizations to protect our most vulnerable populations and help weather this COVID storm together.