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.  


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