WASHINGTON D.C.: The Biden administration has voiced concern over the slowing pace of senior citizens, aged 65 and older, who received at least one COVID-19 vaccine.
"I want to make a direct appeal to our seniors and everyone who cares about them," President Joe Biden said last week, citing "incredible progress", but declaring it's still not enough.
"It's simple: Seniors, it's time for you to get vaccinated now. Get vaccinated now."
The government estimates that some 13 million American seniors have yet to receive their first shot.
Due to their vulnerability to the virus, the government is seeking to target the 23 percent of those 75 and older who have yet to be vaccinated.
Officials believe numerous issues are resulting in the slowing of seniors being vaccinated.
Problems for seniors range from locating vaccination sites, making appointments and finding transportation to the sites. Also, many seniors remain hesitant about receiving the vaccination.
"I was scared, I'm not afraid to say that," Linda Busby, 74, said after being inoculated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. "I thought I wasn't going to get it at first. Nobody likes getting shots," she added, as quoted by the Associated Press.
Busby's hesitance is typical of what officials are confronted by. The strategy being put in place is to approach seniors, one person at a time, while the White House steps up appeals to seniors to get inoculated.
Officials have said that the vaccination rate for seniors is reaching a plateau, even as the amount of vaccination doses has expanded.
Of note, many states have continued to make seniors a priority in receiving the vaccination, even as the general population is able to make appointments to be vaccinated.
Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, said funding from Washington will allow community workers "to go out there and do that more intensive, sometimes one-on-one outreach" with seniors, adding, "It's that last mile, the last group who need the extra support, that's going to take that extra outreach and time."
Also, plans are underway to provide $100 million to community organizations providing "high-intensity" support to at-risk seniors and those with disabilities through the Department of Health and Human Services.
Assistance will include booking appointments, traveling to vaccination sites and other support during the vaccination process.