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Seniors concerned about COVID-19 vaccine availability, cost

A recent survey shows that seniors are willing to get the vaccine but they're worried about availability and cost.

HOUSTON — News of the COVID-19 vaccine approval has some senior citizens concerned about the availability of the vaccine and the cost.

That’s according to a new survey. Four thousand seniors across the country were asked if they planned to take the COVID-19 vaccine and 85% said they'd take it at some point.

But the worry for many was the availability of the vaccine.

Doctors at UTHealth/UT Physicians said the state has a plan and they’re making seniors a priority.

"As soon as the companies can produce this later in December or January it will be available to people 65 or older. They'll make special accommodations for people in long-term care facilities or nursing homes," said Dr. Carmel Dyer, Executive Director of the UTHealth Consortium on Aging and a geriatrician with UT Physicians.

In the survey, six out of 10 seniors said they believe they might have to pay for the vaccine.

"95 plus Americans who are 65 or older have Medicare. And Medicare part B, according to the CARES Act, will cover all the cost for the COVID vaccine," Dyer said.

Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the State of Texas will participate in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, a federal program to vaccinate residents and staff of long-term care facilities against COVID-19. The program is free of charge to facilities and sends staff and Pfizer vaccines from partnering Walgreens and CVS locations to these facilities to vaccinate residents and staff who volunteer to participate.

Doctors said all seniors should get the vaccine but they should reach out to their primary doctor or nurse practitioner to discuss the best options for them.

"The side effects are very likely to be the same side effects that the person had from the flu vaccine. May be aches, mild fever ... may last a day or two. That does not mean they will get COVID from the vaccine," Dyer said.

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