Illinois Aging Network
December 21, 2020
ISSUE: Prioritizing Older Adults & Caregivers for the COVID-19 Vaccine
The Illinois Aging Network supports Illinois’ prioritization of the following groups for the first phases of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution:
- Residents of long-term care facilities
- Older adults
- Paid & unpaid caregivers of older adults and persons with disabilities
As the first coronavirus vaccines become available, limited supply has required the prioritization of certain groups. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices guidelines prioritize groups based on 1) reducing death & serious illness, 2) keeping society functioning, and 3) reducing health disparities in communities that have been disproportionately affected by the virus. Residents of long-term care facilities and paid and unpaid healthcare personnel including home care givers are included in Illinois’ Phase 1a distribution and older adults are included in Illinois’ Phase 1c distribution.
Prioritizing residents of long-term care facilities, older adults, and unpaid and paid caregivers is an essential step in reducing death and serious illness.
- Older adults are more likely to have serious complications from COVID-19 and the risk of hospital re-admittance after having COVID-19 increases with age.
- 78% of COVID-19 deaths occurred in people 65 and older3.
- In Illinois, individuals age 60 and older account for 12,840 COVID-19 deaths; 6,969 of those death were in individuals age 80 and older.
- The proximity of residents and the greater vulnerability that older adults have to COVID-19, make long-term care facilities high risk.
- In Illinois there have been 6,954 laboratory confirmed COVID-19 deaths among residents in the state’s long-term care facilities.
- Healthcare personnel including unpaid and paid caregivers are essential to caring for vulnerable populations yet the nature of their work increases their risk of getting COVID-19.
It is clear that the risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 disproportionately affects older adults, especially residents of long-term care facilities. Vaccines are a key tool in fighting this pandemic and the Illinois Aging Network continues to support the prioritization of our society’s most vulnerable populations and the individuals that care for them.