Targeting seniors would lessen death rate

I came across a sobering statistic. In Wisconsin over 90% of COVID-19-related deaths are impacting adults 60 and older. That goes across categories such as race/ethnicity, sex and occupation.

Hospitals in Wisconsin and throughout the country are overwhelmed trying to care for these patients. Frontline health care workers are pleading for relief. In California they are turning away patients because of 0% ICU capacity.

The situation is dire, but the answer seems clear. If we targeted our vaccinations to the elderly, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 would plummet. Health care workers and hospitals would feel immediate relief.

I also have been reading about the COVID-19 vaccination priorities the CDC offers as a guideline for states. These priorities try to balance whether to reduce severe disease by giving the vaccine to those most at risk of dying, such as older people, or to indirectly reduce disease by vaccinating younger people. They are also grappling with which workers are more essential than others and prioritizing them first for vaccines access.

An inoculation priority for underprivileged populations is also being considered. The guidelines put forth by the CDC seem to be a mashup of these competing priorities.

It's apparent that as a country we are behind in the administration of vaccines. At our rate, it will take years to inoculate enough Americans to achieve herd immunity. Each state will have to develop guidelines based on the CDC recommendations. Perhaps age first is too simplistic. But can we rapidly develop and administer a system that considers occupation, race, ethnicity and age fairly and efficiently by the end of this summer?

If we start inoculating the oldest among us first, we might be able to reduce 90% of the deaths quickly while we wait for the rest to get vaccinated.

Joanna Rick

Eau Claire