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Message From The President
October 30, 2020
RetireSafe Leadership Testifies on Vaccine Importance to Older Americans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President and CEO Mark Gibbons of RetireSafe, one of the premier organizations advocating on behalf of older Americans, testified at the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He took this critical opportunity to urge the CDC to recognize the importance of vaccinating older adults as well as the value of developing multiple vaccine delivery pathways to best suit their lifestyles and needs.
“Even before the pandemic, older Americans faced challenges accessing care,” said President and CEO Gibbons. “There is a clear need to not only develop new vaccines but also to consider the impact of technology and innovation on new methods of making them available, accessible and usable to those who need them including the potential for oral options.”
RetireSafe is an organization whose mission is to educate and advocate on behalf of older Americans on issues including Social Security, Medicare, health, safe retirement, and financial well-being. We believe that older Americans MUST have a voice in public health care policies that affect them.
Older Americans are an important population. Currently there are nearly 70 million Americans over the age of 60. Due to immune system decline as part of aging as well as the prevalence of chronic disease comorbidities, many of them are particularly vulnerable to infectious disease such as influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia and, of course COVID 19. Vaccines for these and other conditions can truly be a matter of life or death for so many. We must keep this population, their increased risks and their access needs at the forefront of vaccine development and ACIP consideration.
One of our major concerns is the need for more expertise and representation for older Americans among ACIP members.
As ACIP deliberates on important vaccines issues, we need to hear from experts who understand health factors and needs of older adults as well as how their behaviors and lifestyles impact being able to fully benefit from immunizations.
The makeup of ACIP members should better reflect clinical expertise in gerontology and the ability of vaccinations to work well for patients with chronic diseases and conditions often associated with advancing age.
Even before the pandemic, older Americans faced challenges accessing care. The pandemic has obviously made that worse. There is a clear need to not only develop new vaccines but also to consider the impact of technology and innovation on new methods of making them available, accessible and usable to those who need them including the potential for oral options. We believe that we need to incorporate that reality into ACIP thinking.
We urge ACIP to be open to expansion of Working Groups and panel membership that includes both clinical and cultural gerontological expertise. We need to keep looking at innovative platforms and solutions to providing immunization to our vulnerable population. Please let our voices be heard.
October 26, 2020 – RetireSafe has released the following letter to the FDA regarding COVID-19 vaccines.
RetireSafe FDA Vaccine Committee Comment Letter
With several vaccine approvals anticipated in the coming months, the United States is at a crossroads in our nation’s fight against COVID-19. And, as unarguably one of the most vulnerable populations in regard to adverse health outcomes stemming from the pandemic, seniors must be one of the primary focuses in any discussion regarding vaccines, their distribution, or how they will be administered. Moreover, RetireSafe has a long history advocating for the health of older Americans. As a grassroots, non-profit organization, RetireSafe’s mission is to educate and support the cause of mature Americans on issues including Social Security, Medicare, health, safe retirement, and financial well-being.
On behalf of the over 70 million Americans across the country, as well as the members of RetireSafe, we urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prioritize the consideration of differing vaccine delivery options beyond traditional injectables. Furthermore, the development of a safe and effective oral COVID-19 vaccine would hold immense benefits for America’s seniors and retirees.
We believe offering a vaccine in pill form, along with deploying other successful treatments, could maximize the number of Americans that will ultimately be vaccinated, especially among seniors who might currently be hesitant to take, or would struggle to access, a vaccine. In fact, a recent poll of RetireSafe’s members across the country found that respondents preferred an oral COVID-19 vaccine option over a traditional injection by more than a 10% margin.
A recent Fox News poll noted: “17% of respondents said they are unsure about getting the flu shot” because they are “concerned about potential exposure to COVID-19 if they go out to get vaccinated.” This number is even higher among America’s older population, and our own poll highlighted that just 43% of our members have received the flu shot this year. We also found that an astonishing 64% of our members are currently in self-quarantine, while 84% are avoiding crowds during the pandemic.
If these eye-opening results are true for the annual flu, it is clear that we will need further vaccine options that afford individuals flexibility, while also allowing them to prioritize the health and safety of their families. The successful development of an oral COVID-19 vaccine could potentially allow seniors with compromised immune systems, those who fear leaving their homes during the pandemic, and those with other vulnerabilities or mobility difficulties to receive their vaccine dose in the comfort and safety of their homes. All of this, on top of the fact that oral vaccines also reduce the possibility of increased exposure to the virus through an injection at a medical facility.
In addition, oral options could promote more equitable vaccine distribution and eliminate rationing. If history is any indicator, America’s most at-risk patients and seniors could be placed at the back of the line if these strategies are enforced at any point. As such, RetireSafe urges the FDA to consider and expedite the review of diverse vaccine options that allow seniors and other threatened groups to decide which vaccination delivery method is best for them, while boosting the number of Americans who are willing and able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The pandemic has shown that this is even more critical given the virus’s proven, disproportionately adverse effects on seniors and retirees.
RetireSafe Releases Nationwide Member Survey on COVID-19 and Vaccines
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, RetireSafe, one of the premier organizations advocating on behalf of American seniors and retirees, released a nationwide survey of their membership on COVID-19 and their vaccine behavior which was conducted in partnership with the National Grange. In particular, this poll found that there was a pervasive hesitancy on the part of seniors to take any COVID-19 vaccine.
RetireSafe President and CEO Mark Gibbons, issued the following statement upon announcing the survey data:
“The goal of this survey was to determine what American seniors thought about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a potential vaccine – and what we discovered should inform those who are combatting this deadly virus. There is a clear, prevalent concern among older Americans for any potential vaccine even after it is proven to be safe by the government and provided under Medicare. Moreover, the lack of seasonal flu vaccination coverage reinforces the significant obstacles to protecting the health of seniors and retirees.”
- Well over 40% of respondents (42% overall) would not be willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine after it has been approved by the FDA while also being covered by Medicare
- Of that 42% who were unwilling to take a COVID-19 vaccine, 80% would not agree to inoculation after that vaccine was in use for three months
- While 64% of respondents reported that they usually were inoculated to the seasonal flu each year, just 46% have done so this year
- A clear majority (54% overall) would prefer their vaccines in pill form if they were proven to be equally safe and effective
The full results can be found here .
Take our latest survey about your use of a Covid Vaccine as well as issues concerning you in the upcoming election, just click on the question below to get started.
Ever since the world changed during this Pandemic, RetireSafe has been reaching out to America's Seniors via Surveys to see what issues they are dealing with... quarantine and isolation, access to medical care and medication, supplies, finances, and others.
The first 3 surveys are essentially the same questions, that we sent out for three weeks in a row. We wanted to first see how our Seniors were doing and then to see if their concerns and needs were changing as we got deeper in to this Pandemic.
The 4th survey is asking Seniors about their medical care, in particular access to doctors and medications.
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