Why aren’t some elderly taking the COVID-19 Vaccine?

This article serves to help young adults like you understand some important information regarding the COVID-19 Vaccinations under the Singapore National Vaccination Drive alongside reasons why your Elderly loved ones may face certain difficulties when deciding whether to take the vaccine. Alongside articles released by the MOH and other credible sources, do take this article as a means to better empathise with your loved ones and their hesitation towards getting vaccinated.

Context: As of 17 Aug 2021, approximately 15% of Elderly in Singapore are not yet fully vaccinated. Some worries that seniors face include: 

  1. Mistrust of the vaccines due to its rapid development. The vaccines were developed quickly as a result of four primary factors. However, ultimately it is important to note that  there were no shortcuts taken in order to produce the vaccine. Safety, scientific and ethical practices were not compromised. For more info you can refer to https://www.vaccine.gov.sg/. The vaccines were developed rapidly owing to the 4 main reasons below:
  • Significant investments and resources being placed into developing the vaccine.
  • Strong global collaboration and partnership among various organisations and stakeholders
  • Given the spread of COVID-19, trials for the vaccine was happening at a much faster pace
  • Given the amount of trials happening concurrently, data across various phases was made available a lot more quickly
  1. Fears regarding mRNA Vaccines. It is important to understand that while the mRNA vaccine is relatively new technology, it is not ineffective. Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BionTech vaccines have an efficacy rate of over 90%. Research has shown that even with the Delta variant, effectiveness is at approximately 80%. While the widespread use of mRNA vaccines are new, it has been researched and been in the ‘pipeline’ for decades.Hence it is important to understand that this is not new but rather, established technology.
  1. No information about the long-term effects of the vaccine. Based on historical data with the development and inoculation of vaccines, the effects of a vaccine are made known within 6 months of receiving the vaccine. Historically based on the data that has been collected thus far, there have been no long term effects of the vaccine. 
  1. Fear of complications or side-effects from the vaccination. Many elderly suffer from illnesses/diseases as a result of old age. This often leads to fear of taking the vaccine due to the potential impact it may have on their existing health conditions. While there are various infographics released regarding the eligibility of who may take the vaccine, MOH has repeatedly assured that most elderly with chronic conditions are eligible to receive the vaccine. In a handy infographic released by MOH, it is stated that only people with extremely low immunity and people with very low platelet counts (below 50k) should not be taking the vaccine. Elderly people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol or on treatments/medication such as kidney dialysis, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, blood thinning medications, etc are able to take the vaccine. If still unclear, do consult with your doctor regarding your particular ailment.
  1. Religious beliefs. It is important to recognize that religious beliefs and ethics may be a factor that some elderly consider when deciding whether to take the vaccination. Various religious organisations have released statements stating the importance of taking vaccinations such as the Catholic Community in Singapore as well as the Islamic Council in Singapore. Alongside these religious communities are prominent religious leaders such as Pope Francis who have expressed the importance of taking the vaccination and has himself taken the vaccination.
  1. Believe that the government is already doing a good job with the measures put in place which reduces the possibility of them getting the virus OR rarely leaving their house. They still face the risk of contracting COVID-19 given how easily it spreads. This poses them at risk of being seriously ill as well as spreading the virus to others. It is important to understand that the purpose of vaccination on an individual is so that the effects from contracting COVID-19 are minimised thereby reducing the health implications.  

CITATIONS

“The Big Read in Short: Not Enough Seniors Are Getting Covid-19 Jabs, and Why This Could Be a Problem.” TODAYonline, 2021, www.todayonline.com/big-read/big-read-short-not-enough-seniors-are-getting-covid-19-jabs-and-why-could-be-problem.

“Call These Helplines If You Need Emotional or Psychological Support.” Helplines for Support amidst COVID-19, 2019, www.gov.sg/article/call-these-helplines-if-you-need-emotional-or-psychological-support.

Goh, Timothy. “3 Common Misconceptions about Covid-19 Vaccines among Seniors in Singapore.” The Straits Times, 12 July 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/3-common-misconceptions-about-covid-19-vaccines.

—. “Seniors Not Keen on Covid-19 Vaccine Tend to Have Less Education, Social Contact: S’pore Study.” The Straits Times, 12 July 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/seniors-not-keen-on-covid-19-jab-tend-to-have-less-education-social-contact.

“How Faith Leaders Are Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence.” Verywell Health, 2020, www.verywellhealth.com/faith-leaders-covid-19-vaccine-confidence-5119460.

“How to Encourage Skeptical Family Members to Get the COVID Vaccine, According to a Brain Science Expert.” Business Insider, 2 Apr. 2021, www.businessinsider.com/my-skeptical-family-members-wont-get-covid-vaccine-2021-4?international=true&r=US&IR=T.

Kai, Ng Wei. “Seniors Not Vaccinated against Covid-19 Should Stay at Home as Much as Possible, Go out for Only Essential Reasons: Lawrence Wong.” The Straits Times, 19 July 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/seniors-not-vaccinated-against-covid-19-should-stay-at-home-as-much-as-possible-only-leave.

Lim, Janice. “Apart from Concerns over the Newness of MRNA Technology, Other Factors Include Fear of the Side Effects, a Belief That Vaccines Are Not Necessary. Religious Convictions and Also a General Lack of Awareness of How to Get Vaccinated, Interviews Show.” CNA, 5 July 2021, www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/covid-19-endemic-race-seniors-vaccinated-sinovac-pfizer-moderna-15147586.

McElwee, Joshua. “Pope Francis Suggests People Have Moral Obligation to Take Coronavirus Vaccine.” National Catholic Reporter, 11 Jan. 2021, www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-francis-suggests-people-have-moral-obligation-take-coronavirus-vaccine.

“MOH | Content You Can Use.” MOH COVID-19 Resources, 2021, www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/resources.

“MOH | COVID-19 Vaccination.” Vaccine Eligibility amongst Seniors, 2020, www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/vaccination.

“Muis – Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.” Religious Position of COVID-19 Vaccine, 2020, www.muis.gov.sg/officeofthemufti/Irsyad/Part-11-Religious-position-on-COVID-19-vaccine-English.

Newcomb, Alyssa. “How Can I Convince My Parents to Get Vaccinated?” TODAY.Com, 12 May 2021, www.today.com/tmrw/how-can-i-convince-my-parents-get-vaccinated-t217740.

Nguyen, Terry. “Covid-19 Vaccine: People Are Trying to Convince Their Families to Get Vaccinated.” Vox, 11 Mar. 2021, www.vox.com/the-goods/22262828/vaccine-hesitant-families-misinformation.

Oster, Emily. “How to (Try to) Talk Your Family Into Getting Vaccinated.” Slate Magazine, 29 Mar. 2021, slate.com/technology/2021/03/covid-vaccine-hesitancy-family.html.

“Public Trust or Mistrust? Perceptions of Media Credibility in the Information Age.” Taylor & Francis, 2001, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/S15327825MCS0404_4.

Rosenblatt, Carolyn. “Persuading Our Stubborn Aging Parents.” Forbes, 15 Dec. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/carolynrosenblatt/2010/09/27/persuading-our-stubborn-aging-parents/?sh=629153587857.

Tan, Cheryl. “Number of Unvaccinated Seniors Aged 60 and above Now 177,000: Ong Ye Kung.” The Straits Times, 31 July 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/number-of-unvaccinated-seniors-aged-60-and-above-now-below-170000-ong.

Tan, Theresa. “Fear of Complications or Side Effects Main Reason Some Seniors in Singapore Spurn Covid-19 Vaccine.” The Straits Times, 26 June 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fear-of-complications-or-side-effects-main-reason-some-seniors-spurn-covid-19-vaccine.

—. “Fear of Complications or Side Effects Main Reason Some Seniors in Singapore Spurn Covid-19 Vaccine.” The Straits Times, 26 June 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fear-of-complications-or-side-effects-main-reason-some-seniors-spurn-covid-19-vaccine.

“To Encourage Take-up of Covid-19 Vaccine, Govt Officials Will Go Door-to-Door to Address Concerns: Gan Kim Yong.” TODAYonline, 2021, www.todayonline.com/singapore/encourage-take-up-covid-19-vaccine-govt-officials-will-go-door-to-door-address-concerns-gan-kim-yong.

“Understanding MRNA COVID-19 Vaccines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Mar. 2021, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html.

Wong, Andrew Usa Today. “Stop Using Religion to Fight COVID-19 Vaccine. Taking It Is the Christian Thing to Do.” USA TODAY, 28 July 2021, www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2021/07/28/take-covid-19-vaccine-its-christian-thing-do/5389873001.

Zhang, Lim Min. “Religious and Community Groups, Experts Clear Doubts about Covid-19 Jabs in S’pore.” The Straits Times, 3 May 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/religious-community-groups-experts-clear-doubts-about-covid-19-jabs-in-singapore.

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How can we convince/approach the Elderly to get the COVID-19 Vaccination?

How can we convince/approach the Elderly with this topic?

Convincing your loved ones to get vaccinated can be a daunting task. Understandably, many of us struggle with this topic and find it difficult to approach them and talk to them about this issue. This article serves to provide you with some basic tips which have proven effective through research in persuading/approaching the elderly with sensitive issues like COVID-19 Vaccinations. We hope that this article serves you well.

  1. Picking the right opportunities. It is easy to get stressed amidst this pandemic, especially for seniors who are more likely to feel the effects of social isolation. When approaching them, try to find the right atmosphere where they are likely to be more receptive. Find moments when they are in a happier mood, maybe after a meal or while they are doing an activity they particularly enjoy.
  1. Empathy. Start off by understanding their fears with regards to getting vaccinated. This is vital as their opinions/fears may be a result of misinformation or misunderstandings that stem from one-off cases which are not representative of the wider population. Some elderly may not be as well read and up-to-date on current news and developments making them more susceptible to believing misinformation which they may see online or through word-of-mouth from those around them. Lastly, be aware of your ultimate goal. Ultimately, we do not need to get them to agree with us. Rather, we it is about providing the correct and accurate information for them to make a better decision for themselves, to get vaccinated.
  1. Be well informed. Information is power! Ensure that you are reading from reliable sources such as the Ministry of Health’s website prior to approaching your senior!. Statistics show that elderly tend to increasingly trust their family members over outlets such as government websites or news articles. In order for them to be well-informed about the importance of getting vaccinated, it is equally important for you to have the necessary knowledge needed to address their concerns before sharing with them the knwoeldge.
  1. Unvaccinated individuals may be at risk of more serious complications should they get COVID-19. There is a risk of serious, life-threatening disease and death from COVID-19 infection, especially in the elderly and other vulnerable groups (e.g. persons with comorbidities). Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one way to prevent the disease, minimise the risk of transmission, and prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed. This allows them to protect themselves as well as their loved ones. Thus, by getting vaccinated, we help out by:
  • Provide protection for the majority of our population. A population with high vaccination coverage against COVID-19 will indirectly protect those who are unable to receive COVID-19 vaccination (e.g. severely immunocompromised individuals, subgroups such as children where safety data is not available), as the risk of transmission of the disease will be greatly reduced.

  • Reducing the risk of serious life-threatening disease and death from the COVID-19 infection
  1. It is ultimately their decision. Reassure them of the benefits and make use of videos online such as the video by the Singapore Prime Minister encouraging the elderly to get vaccinated. You can also find pro vaccination videos by other ministers as well as celebrities/well-known personalities with whom they are familiar with and respect.
  1. Don’t be afraid to seek help or guidance. Just like the national efforts in fighting this pandemic, teamwork is essential! Work with your relatives and friends when talking to your elderly loved ones. Hearing them sound out their collective concern in a loving manner may serve to help. Do not be hesitant to approach medical professionals or the gov.sg COVID-19 interactive chat bot. You may even call the Caregivers for Seniors (AIC Hotline) at 1800 650 6060 for further assistance, good luck!

CITATIONS

“The Big Read in Short: Not Enough Seniors Are Getting Covid-19 Jabs, and Why This Could Be a Problem.” TODAYonline, 2021, www.todayonline.com/big-read/big-read-short-not-enough-seniors-are-getting-covid-19-jabs-and-why-could-be-problem.

“Call These Helplines If You Need Emotional or Psychological Support.” Helplines for Support amidst COVID-19, 2019, www.gov.sg/article/call-these-helplines-if-you-need-emotional-or-psychological-support.

Goh, Timothy. “3 Common Misconceptions about Covid-19 Vaccines among Seniors in Singapore.” The Straits Times, 12 July 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/3-common-misconceptions-about-covid-19-vaccines.

—. “Seniors Not Keen on Covid-19 Vaccine Tend to Have Less Education, Social Contact: S’pore Study.” The Straits Times, 12 July 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/seniors-not-keen-on-covid-19-jab-tend-to-have-less-education-social-contact.

“How Faith Leaders Are Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence.” Verywell Health, 2020, www.verywellhealth.com/faith-leaders-covid-19-vaccine-confidence-5119460.

“How to Encourage Skeptical Family Members to Get the COVID Vaccine, According to a Brain Science Expert.” Business Insider, 2 Apr. 2021, www.businessinsider.com/my-skeptical-family-members-wont-get-covid-vaccine-2021-4?international=true&r=US&IR=T.

Kai, Ng Wei. “Seniors Not Vaccinated against Covid-19 Should Stay at Home as Much as Possible, Go out for Only Essential Reasons: Lawrence Wong.” The Straits Times, 19 July 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/seniors-not-vaccinated-against-covid-19-should-stay-at-home-as-much-as-possible-only-leave.

Lim, Janice. “Apart from Concerns over the Newness of MRNA Technology, Other Factors Include Fear of the Side Effects, a Belief That Vaccines Are Not Necessary. Religious Convictions and Also a General Lack of Awareness of How to Get Vaccinated, Interviews Show.” CNA, 5 July 2021, www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/covid-19-endemic-race-seniors-vaccinated-sinovac-pfizer-moderna-15147586.

McElwee, Joshua. “Pope Francis Suggests People Have Moral Obligation to Take Coronavirus Vaccine.” National Catholic Reporter, 11 Jan. 2021, www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-francis-suggests-people-have-moral-obligation-take-coronavirus-vaccine.

“MOH | Content You Can Use.” MOH COVID-19 Resources, 2021, www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/resources.

“MOH | COVID-19 Vaccination.” Vaccine Eligibility amongst Seniors, 2020, www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/vaccination.

“Muis – Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.” Religious Position of COVID-19 Vaccine, 2020, www.muis.gov.sg/officeofthemufti/Irsyad/Part-11-Religious-position-on-COVID-19-vaccine-English.

Newcomb, Alyssa. “How Can I Convince My Parents to Get Vaccinated?” TODAY.Com, 12 May 2021, www.today.com/tmrw/how-can-i-convince-my-parents-get-vaccinated-t217740.

Nguyen, Terry. “Covid-19 Vaccine: People Are Trying to Convince Their Families to Get Vaccinated.” Vox, 11 Mar. 2021, www.vox.com/the-goods/22262828/vaccine-hesitant-families-misinformation.

Oster, Emily. “How to (Try to) Talk Your Family Into Getting Vaccinated.” Slate Magazine, 29 Mar. 2021, slate.com/technology/2021/03/covid-vaccine-hesitancy-family.html.

“Public Trust or Mistrust? Perceptions of Media Credibility in the Information Age.” Taylor & Francis, 2001, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/S15327825MCS0404_4.

Rosenblatt, Carolyn. “Persuading Our Stubborn Aging Parents.” Forbes, 15 Dec. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/carolynrosenblatt/2010/09/27/persuading-our-stubborn-aging-parents/?sh=629153587857.

Tan, Cheryl. “Number of Unvaccinated Seniors Aged 60 and above Now 177,000: Ong Ye Kung.” The Straits Times, 31 July 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/number-of-unvaccinated-seniors-aged-60-and-above-now-below-170000-ong.

Tan, Theresa. “Fear of Complications or Side Effects Main Reason Some Seniors in Singapore Spurn Covid-19 Vaccine.” The Straits Times, 26 June 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fear-of-complications-or-side-effects-main-reason-some-seniors-spurn-covid-19-vaccine.

—. “Fear of Complications or Side Effects Main Reason Some Seniors in Singapore Spurn Covid-19 Vaccine.” The Straits Times, 26 June 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fear-of-complications-or-side-effects-main-reason-some-seniors-spurn-covid-19-vaccine.

“To Encourage Take-up of Covid-19 Vaccine, Govt Officials Will Go Door-to-Door to Address Concerns: Gan Kim Yong.” TODAYonline, 2021, www.todayonline.com/singapore/encourage-take-up-covid-19-vaccine-govt-officials-will-go-door-to-door-address-concerns-gan-kim-yong.

“Understanding MRNA COVID-19 Vaccines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Mar. 2021, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html.

Wong, Andrew Usa Today. “Stop Using Religion to Fight COVID-19 Vaccine. Taking It Is the Christian Thing to Do.” USA TODAY, 28 July 2021, www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2021/07/28/take-covid-19-vaccine-its-christian-thing-do/5389873001.

Zhang, Lim Min. “Religious and Community Groups, Experts Clear Doubts about Covid-19 Jabs in S’pore.” The Straits Times, 3 May 2021, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/religious-community-groups-experts-clear-doubts-about-covid-19-jabs-in-singapore.

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“A Story of True Love”

“One of the first elderly residents “(‘Uncle Tan’) I visited lives with his helper, as his wife was recently diagnosed with dementia. He had reluctantly brought her to live in a nursing home so she could be cared for by professional healthcare workers. It was truly a tough decision for him to make.

Uncle Tan’s care and love for his wife goes so far that he refuses to go for his family’s reunion dinners because he can’t bear to eat the well-prepared delicacies while his wife is stuck in a nursing home with perhaps less tasty meals. As he was talking to us, I could clearly see his eyes welling up…

Uncle Tan told me that he continues to visit his wife daily, without fail.”

– One of our volunteers, reflecting on his card distribution with Montfort GoodLife! and Hey, You’ve Got Mail!

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“Come Rain or Shine”

Come rain or shine… will you be there for the elderly?

One of our volunteers reflects that many of us rarely even see our grandparents, and when we do, some of us are “glued to our phones” while others can’t get past the language barrier.

“None of us want to be in a situation where we regret not having known our grandparents better.”

But it’s never too late to make the first step. No need to use big words – a simple “Have you eaten?” or “What did you do last week?” can set off a conversation that both of you will cherish forever.

Think about the various elderly in your life – your grandparents, the Coffeeshop Uncle, the Auntie selling tissues. How can you reach out to them today?