As more Americans become inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine, we continue to witness a stark decline in infections. As a result, the CDC proposed that fully vaccinated individuals could resume activities without wearing masks or socially distancing. Although COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and effective, the abrupt recommendation to unmask has left some, especially aging adults, with feelings of uncertainty.
COVID-19 vaccines and older adults
Many seniors are aware that severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age. As a result, seniors are questioning if they should be concerned about Covid post-vaccination. According to the CDC, “There is no way to ensure you have zero risk of getting the virus that causes COVID-19.” However, receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is a critical step in preventing getting sick from Coronavirus.
Research has shown that older adults that choose not to vaccinate are more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. The CDC reports, “Adults 65 years old and older who were fully vaccinated with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) had a 94% reduction in risk of COVID-19 hospitalizations and vaccination was 64% effective among those who were partially vaccinated (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna).” The CDC research strongly suggests that the COVID-19 vaccination is effective in preventing COVID-19 among older adults.
Concerns about COVID post-vaccination
The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities enjoyed before the pandemic. However, it’s essential to stay alert and be aware of symptoms associated with COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone that’s been ill. Individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should report these symptoms to their physician and get tested immediately, as well as stay home away from others to limit the spread.
Fully vaccinated seniors taking medication that weakens the immune system or have certain medical conditions may need additional precautions to prevent COVID-19. Medical conditions that call for extra precautions include:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung diseases
- Dementia or other neurological conditions
- Heart conditions
- Liver disease
- Immunocompromised state
- Former smoker
- Stroke patient
- Sickle cell disease
In addition to receiving a vaccine, precautions for those with weakened immune systems are similar to those taken during the height of the pandemic include the following:
- Continue to wear a mask that covers the mouth and nose.
- Stay six feet apart from individuals that don’t live in your home.
- Avoid large crowds and poorly ventilated areas, such as restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters.
- Wash hands with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
If you’re unsure whether your medications or medical condition may affect your immune system, speak with your healthcare provider for additional guidance on protecting yourself from COVID-19.
Seniors who have received a COVID-19 vaccine without pre-existing conditions greatly decrease the risks of contracting the virus or suffering severe complications or hospitalization. However, everyone’s medical history is unique, so be sure to speak to your primary care physician for more detailed information on what type of situations or activities should be avoided.