The United States has put coronavirus vaccine shots into 75% of seniors’ arms as of Saturday, a massive vaccination rate for one of the pandemic’s hardest-hit groups — but several states have charged even further ahead and immunized more than eight in 10 seniors.
About 41 million elderly Americans — or 75% of that age group — have taken at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, and 54.7% of Americans over 65 are fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released Saturday.
First Place: Vermont is leading the country in vaccinating seniors, getting at least one dose to 88.9% of its elderly residents, partly because the state made seniors eligible for the vaccine before virtually every other high-risk group.
Runners Up: Connecticut, South Dakota, Maine and Rhode Island have all given out shots to more than 84% of their seniors.
Above Average: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Delaware and Iowa have reached over 80% of elderly residents.
Hawaii is ranked 50th, giving out doses to just 63.7% of its seniors, even though the state’s overall vaccination rate is slightly ahead of the national average — possibly because Hawaii opened up vaccines to over-65s a bit later than some other states. Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi have also vaccinated fewer than two-thirds of elderly residents.
429,600. That’s the number of Americans over 65 who have died from Covid-19, making up over 80% of the country’s coronavirus death toll, according to CDC data.
Most states allowed seniors to take coronavirus vaccines before the general public, a decision rooted in their extreme risk of getting severely sick or dying from Covid-19. But each state set its own eligibility rules, leading to differing levels of coverage. For example, Florida allowed everybody over 65 to register in late December, overwhelming some vaccine clinics but causing its senior vaccination rate to lead the nation earlier this year, while other states allowed frontline workers and people over 75 to get vaccinated before younger seniors.
What To Watch For
All 50 states will drop their eligibility rules by the beginning of next month, freeing up vaccines for every adult who wants one. This change means seniors — who currently make up almost 40% of America’s total vaccinated population — will get a smaller share of vaccine doses. Still, public health officials expect plenty of doses to be available: Vaccinations have sped up for months, setting a one-day record of almost 4.1 million shots reported on Saturday, and drugmakers expect to continue ramping up their output.