Caution ahead: The ongoing challenge of vaccinating the most vulnerable

For unvaccinated individuals – who make up over half the country – a return to normal may be one of the most unsafe times of the pandemic. What’s more, it’s challenging to know who exactly is at the highest risk for getting the virus or being hospitalized once ill. That’s why value sets continue to be an important tool in the fight against COVID-19.

With nearly half of the US population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, many of us are happily embracing a (gradual) return to pre-pandemic life. But for the unvaccinated, the “Great Reopening” signals a shift into riskier times.

Over the past month unvaccinated individuals contracted the coronavirus at rates 69% higher than those who are vaccinated. And with 55.5% of the country still not fully vaccinated, it’s more important than ever to encourage the most at-risk patients to seek out a shot.

But knowing who is most susceptible to contracting the coronavirus and its emerging variants is a challenge. At the beginning of the pandemic, the elderly – especially patients in nursing homes – emerged as the most vulnerable members of the population. After being prioritized to receive the vaccine, however, that’s no longer the case, with a large majority of these individuals already inoculated.

For adolescents, though, a different picture is emerging. Since they have only recently become eligible to receive the vaccine – and are more likely to interact with other unvaccinated teens and young adults – rates of COVID-19 for this cohort have seen a sharp increase. And as more youths become vaccinated, the group that is most at-risk is likely to shift again.

With so much changing daily, it’s critical that providers be able to reach out to their unvaccinated patients, particularly those in an at-risk cohort who have existing comorbidities that increase their chances of hospitalization or death from the virus. That’s where dynamic, updated, and accurate value sets can play an important role.

To learn more about how valuable well-maintained value sets can be to the Great Reopening and other efforts to combat COVID-19, download our latest executive brief, A moving target: Challenges in vaccinating the most vulnerable against COVID-19.

For more on IMO’s role in the coronavirus pandemic, click here.

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