High COVID-19 Vaccination Among Seniors Statewide
Slower Rates For 12- to 59-Year-Olds Creates Challenge As Delta Variant Spreads
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — More than 70% of Missourians over the age of 60 — the population that has experienced the highest risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 — have initiated or completed the vaccination series. However, data from the state’s ShowMeVax system indicate that 1,036,298 Missourians between ages 12 and 59 would need to initiate the vaccination process to reach 70% of the eligible population in Missouri with full or partial vaccine-induced immunity.
“Missouri has made important progress in protecting the most vulnerable from the most deleterious effects of the virus,” said Herb B. Kuhn, Missouri Hospital Association President and CEO. “Unfortunately, the arrival of the Delta variant in Missouri is driving transmission of the virus, and is resulting in increased illness and hospitalization among a younger population and the unvaccinated — a tragic consequence considering the vaccine’s effectiveness at reducing hospitalizations and deaths.”
President Biden established a goal of 70% vaccination initiation by Sunday, July 4. The nation will not meet this goal. At the same time, Missouri is behind the majority of states in vaccination rates among the eligible population.
Unfortunately, recent demand for the vaccine has been low among younger Missourians. Throughout the last two weeks, an average of 3,339 Missourians between the ages of 12 and 59 have decided to initiate vaccination each day. If the vaccination rate remains stable, Missouri would not reach the 70% target for another 309 days, or May 2, 2022.
“The best defense is a strong offense, and that means more Missourians must initiate the vaccination process — especially the state’s 12- to 59-year-olds,” Kuhn said. “Vaccine is widely available, making vaccination convenient. Moreover, the vaccines have proven highly effective, are available at no cost to the patient and have undergone rigorous scientific scrutiny. The July 4 holiday could be a super-spreader event among the unvaccinated, leading to further pressure on hospitals. To stop the spread of the Delta variant, we need the vaccination rate to increase significantly and quickly.”
Missouri has led the nation in both new cases and cases caused by the more transmissible Delta variant throughout the past two weeks. Research on vaccine hesitancy in Missouri finds significant geographic and demographic differences in attitudes. Nonetheless, vaccination can reduce transmission and harm. Missourians can find a convenient vaccination location online at https://covidvaccine.mo.gov/find/#vaccine-finder.
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The Missouri Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association in Jefferson City that represents 140 Missouri hospitals. In addition to representation and advocacy on behalf of its membership, the association offers continuing education programs on current health care topics and seeks to educate the public about health care issues.