NEW YORK – Bronwyn Russell wears a mask whenever she leaves her Illinois home, although she doesn’t dream of going out to eat or listen to a band play, much less setting foot on a plane. . In Virginia, Oliver Midgett rarely wears a mask, never lets COVID-19 be a concern and happily finds himself in the midst of restaurants and crowds.
He is vaccinated. He is not.
In a different sign as Americans view the coronavirus pandemic, vaccinated older adults are far more concerned about the virus than taking precautions despite the safety afforded by their shots, according to a new survey on Wednesday. Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
While a growing number of older people are planning travel, embracing group gatherings and returning to gyms and houses of worship, vaccinations are declining.
“I’m worried. I don’t want to get sick,” says Russell, 58, of Des Plaines, Illinois, who is looking for part-time work while collecting disability benefits. “People who are going about their lives are selfish. Are in their own little bubble and don’t believe in facts.”
As the delta version of the virus fueled new waves of infections, a survey of people 50 or older found that 36% of people are very or extremely worried that they or a family member will be infected, after June. will almost double. The increase is driven by vaccinations, which are particularly likely to be highly concerned. Only 25% of vaccinated Americans, but 61% of unvaccinated Americans, say they are not worried.
This concern is taking a toll: People who are concerned about COVID-19 are less likely to rate their quality of life, mental and emotional health, and social activities and relationships as excellent or very good.
The dichotomy is at once peculiar and pedestrian: although the uninfected stand the highest risk of infection, the refusal of shots suggests that many are convinced the danger is greater.
Midget, a 73-year-old retired electronics salesman in Norfolk, Virginia, sees the government as the culprit in inciting fear, but he isn’t buying into it. He says that “life is normal” and the only thing he is missing is going on a cruise with his wife because of vaccination requirements. It won’t reassure him.
“I grew up in the old days. I ate dirt. I drank water from a hose. I played outside. I don’t live in a cage anymore,” he says.
Nearly two-thirds of people age 50 or older say they rarely or never feel isolated, but nearly half of those most worried about COVID-19 say they have The past month has felt that way at least sometimes.
Cathy Paiva, 70, a retired bartender from Palm Coast, Florida, says she feels the burden of being at home.
“My life is more limited than ever,” Paiva says. “I’m scared to go anywhere right now. I want to go out to eat too, but I’m not going to put anyone’s life in danger, especially myself.
His son died of a heart attack in January. In July, she and her closest confidant, her 67-year-old sister, both fell ill with COVID-19. Paiva, who has been vaccinated, survived. His sister, who was not, was not.
About 1 in 4 older adults, including about a third of those most concerned about COVID-19, say their social life and relationships have deteriorated over the past year.
The survey found that vaccinated older adults were more likely to say they often avoided large groups, wore masks outside their homes and avoided non-essential travel. Compared to June, vaccinated people were less likely to say they would travel or visit bars and restaurants in the next few weeks.
Dr. Irwin Radlenner, a public health expert and founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, said fear of the virus is less because of “disregard for science” among unvaccinated people.
“Vaccinated people have generally bought into the scientific realities of risk. They are reading reports of new variants or mutations, they are reading stories about successes,” he said.
All of this is raising concerns for vaccination, Radlenner said, over a lack of confidence in experts and officials and their shifting guidance, most recently to the issue of booster shots.
Information technology consultant Lee Sharp, 54, of Houston, who was so seriously ill with COVID-19 last year that he made sure his wife knew how to access all of his accounts, initially thought he was vaccinated as soon as he Will shots were available. But as the months have gone by, the vigor with which vaccines have been pushed forward has not made him want to take one.
“As time goes on, I have less and less confidence. ‘Masks do nothing!’ ‘Mask do something!’ ‘You need two masks!’ ‘No, you need four masks!’ ‘You need a disposable mask!’ ‘No, cloth masks are fine!'” he said angrily. “what the heck?”
Linda Wells, a 61-year-old retired high school administrator in San Francisco, says the defiance has been discouraging. She got her shots and a booster, but because of the arthritis medication she takes, her doctors have told her she’s “in the fuzzy area of not knowing whether I’m safe.”
She wants to go to a community pool for a swim or hop on a plane to see a play in Los Angeles or visit a niece in Arizona. She wants to dine in a restaurant or take a leisurely shopping trip. She doesn’t do it for fear of infection.
“I depend on what other people do and, you know, I’ve done everything I could. I wear a mask. I’ve got the vaccine. And for people not to do that.” For being so selfish, it’s ridiculous,” she says. “A stubborn approach prevents them from solving the health crisis.”
The AP-NORC survey of 1,015 people 50 or older was conducted August 20-23, using a nationally representative sample drawn from a probability-based foresight 50+ panel developed by NORC at the University of Chicago. The margin of sample error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
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