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SilverSneakers Pulse Survey: 85% of U.S. senior respondents plan to take COVID-19 vaccine

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tivity Health, a leading provider of health improvement solutions, including SilverSneakers, the nation’s leading community fitness program for older adults with 16 million eligible members nationwide, unveiled the results of a nationally representative survey of its SilverSneakers members, with almost 4,000 seniors responding from 49 U.S. states. The SilverSneakers Pulse survey uncovers senior perceptions of a COVID-19 vaccine and their willingness to receive the vaccine once available.

Richard Ashworth

Key Highlights:

  • 85 percent of all respondents said they will take the vaccine at some point
  • Almost half of all respondents say they plan to take an approved COVID-19 vaccine immediately or within one month of availability
  • 1 in 3 respondents said they are hesitant and would prefer to wait at least three months to take the vaccine
  • About 6 of 10 seniors said they believe they will have to pay for the vaccine
  • 15 percent of all respondents say they have no current plan to take an approved COVID-19 vaccine with 84 percent of these respondents citing concerns about side effects for not taking the vaccine
  • Two out of three respondents believe they will have to wait at least three months to have access to the vaccine

The results about the perceived cost of the vaccine and its availability contrast public health authorities’ assurances that the vaccine will be offered at no cost and that senior-aged adults will be prioritized.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have engaged our members to better understand their needs and challenges, understanding that seniors are at a higher risk if they contract the virus,” said Richard Ashworth, president and CEO of Tivity Health. “Now that we are seeing momentum toward a vaccine, all organizations who serve seniors in the public and private sectors need to consider how we can support awareness, education, distribution and adoption. We serve 16 million eligible SilverSneakers members, and we want them to be as safe and healthy as possible, including getting a COVID-19 vaccine when it is approved and available.”

Trust in Vaccine Delivery Sources
The SilverSneakers Pulse Survey results found that 84 percent of all respondents said they would feel comfortable receiving the vaccine from their primary care provider (PCP), while 60 percent of respondents said they would be satisfied receiving the vaccine at a pharmacy or drugstore and 33 percent were comfortable with a clinic or urgent care location.

Only 23 percent of all respondents said they would feel safe receiving the vaccine in a hospital. This is noteworthy to inform public health decisions about prioritization of locations for vaccine deployment.

Trust in Non-Government and Government Organizations for Vaccine Information
Seniors trust these non-government sources regarding COVID-19 vaccine information:

  • Primary Care Physician – 78 percent
  • Health plan – 63 percent
  • Pharmacist – 53 percent

Seniors trust these government sources:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – 68 percent
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) – 64 percent
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – 63 percent

Survey respondents also indicated trust in local and state authorities but at far lower rates compared to federal government agencies, with local authorities at 44 percent and state authorities at 49 percent.

Perceptions in Contrast with the Flu Vaccine
Despite only 47 percent of respondents indicating they will take the COVID-19 vaccine once available within one month and 85 percent overall at some point, 81 percent of all respondents indicated they have already received a flu vaccine, with 38 percent receiving the flu vaccine from a pharmacy or drug store. This presents an opportunity to utilize best practices from flu as well as pneumonia vaccine education, awareness and distribution campaigns to increase adoption of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The good news is that many seniors are already predisposed to take the vaccine, but concerns linger about cost and prioritization. A coordinated awareness and education effort led by public health organizations and supported by healthcare stakeholders in the private sector could increase both the rate of acceptance and speed of adoption,” said Ashworth. “In addition, we can learn from best practices with how other vaccines have been managed, including the flu and pneumonia vaccine.”


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