The pandemic ripped apart the world through its rage in the initial days, and the echo of that devastation is still evident in different corners. People have spent nearly three years in fear and gathering courage. In the US, everyone is gradually moving into a pre-pandemic kind of normalcy. Still, the virus claims hundreds of lives, with an average of 400 deaths. It significantly improved from January 2021, when the country lost almost 3,400 people daily. The weekly average fatality rate is unacceptable, considering vaccines are available now. It can be tough to ignore the daily deaths as well caused by the virus.
If you probe more into death tolls, you will find that the country lost 2,500 people in one week, and starting from early 2022, the total number of fatalities is 221,000. All these are COVID-related casualties. People dying of the infection are mostly 75 years old. So far, 95% of elders in the 65-age group have completed their vaccines, but many have still not taken all the shots and are susceptible to severe COVID-19-led illness. The high mortality rate and the likelihood of resurgence of the virus have again spotlighted the vaccination drive. Seniors and high-risk individuals need bivalent shots to protect themselves from older and new viruses. Dr. Ashish Jha from the White House urges the previously immunized people ages 12 and more to get the updated doses.
Interestingly, surveys by reputable learning centers like MyBioSource show that some American states favor coronavirus prevention measures while others either support them least or not at all. The government bodies are visibly concerned, as while cases seemed to decline in summer, the samples collected from wastewater sites show a rise.
The status of the seniors in the US
The coronavirus situation is much different today as the atmosphere of panic has disappeared. You can credit it to vaccinations and treatment. But things have not changed much for the older American population. They deal with a constant resurgence of infections, staff shortages that affect their daily care routine, and the loss of near and dear ones in these two years and more. Amidst this, you hear the news that CDC has removed masking rules in nursing units and hospitals with a few exceptional cases. Some believe that it can make things more challenging for high-risk seniors. They may not feel safe when visiting healthcare setups.
Harvard Medical School’s David Grabowski says that older people deserve more attention as the pandemic has been very harsh on them in many ways. Almost 93% of deaths in America include people aged 50 plus. Even today, seniors are dying at a higher rate due to COVID-19 infection. McKinsey report also suggests that infected oldies had a 1,000 times higher mortality rate than teenagers in 2021. The numbers slightly improved after the availability of vaccines and treatments.
The data indicate that nearly 1.6 million adults aged 70 stayed home in 2019. The exact number shot up to 4.2 million the following year. Because they became homebound, their risks of poor health and death also increased. If you delve more into this aspect, you will know that this population also suffered mental and physical challenges due to coronavirus-induced loneliness and stress.
The lack of proper messaging regarding the COVID-19 vaccine
Vaccines for kids younger than 5 became available in summer in the US. When we reached mid-August, the vaccination rate among them remained less than 5%. Only 1% of children received all the shots. There is a belief that the low turnout rate is due to a lack of assurance that the new boosters will offer higher safety against the virus. Then, milder and asymptomatic cases became an example of vaccine breakthroughs, but no one reminded that the shots helped severe infections also.
Adding to this, the onset of the Omicron virus in 2021 again created doubts in everyone’s mind about the vaccine’s efficacy. By that time, boosters were also available. There was no clarity about who was at an advantage – those who got their third or fourth shots or the younger age group of healthy 25 years old.
The pandemic affected the country on a massive scale, and the ongoing onslaught of the virus hasn’t allowed anyone to breathe a sigh of relief. Things have improved from the early days of the infections, but health officials fear that fall and winter can once again present a different scenario. With safety measures easing out and festivities likely to gain pace soon, everyone is responsible for protecting themselves. If you belong to a group of high-risk individuals, wear masks in indoor settings in public. Test yourself for the infection if you suspect any symptoms. Also, keep yourself updated on vaccines. Essentially, you don’t want to risk your health and routine that seemed far more impossible to achieve a while back.