Drive for 75: Resources from Week 23

Members | August 06, 2021 | by Dee Pekruhn, Jill Schumann

LeadingAge Coronavirus Update Calls feature brief segments called “Drive for 75” to promote the successful vaccination of at least 75% of our aging services providers’ workforce, and as needed, residents. We will cover developments in the news, research, and innovative practices that support our members in attaining high vaccination rates.

This Week’s Highlights:

Volume Fifty Six: Air Date 8.2.21. “Perspectives on Vaccine Hesitancy”

Dr. Edwin Leap recently wrote a thoughtful article about vaccine hesitancy. He began by wondering why people sometimes do, or fail to do, things that negatively affect their health. Using examples of people with diabetes who do not take insulin regularly, people with lung cancer who still smoke; and young people who begin using drugs, he provided some good examples of why that might be the case. In no circumstances, would telling his patients they were stupid have made them more likely to follow good advice.

“Human decisions are far more complex, nuanced, and personal than most of us realize”, he said, but often in particular circumstances, people’s decisions are comprehensible, if concerning. He applied this to vaccine hesitancy and gave some examples of how people’s concerns about being vaccinated might be comprehensible – again using good examples.

He concludes by saying, “I believe that the science of the vaccine is good and the benefit is great. However, I work with real human beings and with their very real doubts and fears. I urge everyone to try and understand the vaccine hesitant and talk to them. Treat them as potential allies rather than enemies. We change the minds of our patients, and our loved ones, with compassion and kindness. We only alienate them with disdain. And this is nowhere more true than in the issue of COVID-19 vaccine hesitation.”

Volume Fifty Seven: Air Date 8.4.21. “Vaccine Passports: The New York Experiment”

We all know well that famous gift France once gave to the United States: Lady Liberty, who stands at Ellis Island in New York to welcome all with her shining light of freedom outstretched to “the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free…”

We might all breathe a little freer right now, knowing that the US surpassed the goal of 70% of people receiving at least one dose of the vaccine this week.

And now it seems France has sent New York another magnanimous gift: the example of the public vaccine requirement.

On Monday, France's parliament passed a law that requires a "health pass" showing proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test in order to enter restaurants, bars and for travel on long-distance trains and planes.” Reportedly, the number of appointments for vaccinations surged after this was announced; Italy is following a similar course.

On Tuesday, New York City also took that giant leap – requiring a proof of vaccination status to enter indoor restaurants, gyms, and indoor entertainment venues like movie theaters and Broadway.

Mayor de Blasio was quoted as saying, "If you're unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things," Also: "If you want to participate in our society fully, you've got to get vaccinated." De Blasio said this requirement would also hold for those coming to work in the same establishments.

The program begins on August 16, and enforcement starts on September 13. In order to gain entry to various indoor venues, people will have to show proof of vaccination either on the New York state digital app, the Key to NYC Pass City App, or the CDC paper card given to those who have been vaccinated. Children under the age of 12 will be exempted for now, as they are ineligible to get the vaccine, although the details of safety protocol around their entry to indoor venues are still being worked out. Those who are unvaccinated will only be permitted to dine outdoors or use other outdoor facilities in other such venues.

The mayor said the city consulted with the U.S. Department of Justice and got a “very clear message” that it was legal to move forward with these mandates, even without full F.D.A. approval. De Blasio stopped short of reinstating a mask mandate, as he said he felt that this would give the unvaccinated a way out of taking the vaccine.

The reaction amongst the hospitality industry to the Mayor’s mandate was reportedly mixed; many welcomed the requirement as a way to reinvigorate an industry that has been hit hard financially by COVID restrictions. The association of Broadway theaters had already decided voluntarily to require vaccine proof for entry. Other business owners expressed concerns around enforcement; specifically, how to put processes in place to screen patrons, and the fear that some patrons may react angrily or violently as happened with the mask mandates. However, the Mayor was also quoted as saying he hoped the city mandate would take pressure off of private businesses to voluntarily require and enforce a vaccine requirement.

And so, New York City’s vaccine requirement will be a great experiment to test whether this method –restrictions on daily life for the unvaccinated – will get that ‘movable middle’ to finally get their shot. We’ll all be watching closely, no doubt!