Some states could fully vaccinate their 65-and-older population within two months, but it could take more than twice as long for others, a CNN analysis found.
If individuals age 65 and older were the only people being vaccinated, Alaska could fully vaccinate its seniors – with both shots of the two-dose regimen – within 43 days. In Iowa, Hawaii, Idaho and Florida, it could take more than 130 days, or more than four months.
The analysis considered the total senior population in each state, along with the average pace of vaccine administration over the past seven days, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In four states, more than one in five people are 65 or older, according to data from the US Census Bureau: Maine, Florida, West Virginia and Vermont.
At the current pace of vaccinations, it would take Florida 131 days to fully vaccinate its senior population if they were the only group being vaccinated. However, West Virginia is administering vaccines at a per capita rate that’s about 32% faster than Florida, and could fully vaccinate its senior population in 87 days.
About two weeks ago, the federal government – under the Trump administration – issued new guidance to states to expand vaccine eligibility to adults 65 years old and older, along with health care workers and long-term care residents and staff. But both Florida and West Virginia had adapted their plans to focus on senior populations sooner.
Florida’s vaccination plan has left many frustrated by apparent lack of coordination, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has defended the state’s plan and its emphasis on protecting older people.
“We put seniors first and other states soon followed,” he said at a press conference.
About a quarter of Florida’s senior population – more than 1.1 million people 65 years or older – had received at least one vaccine dose, according to the state’s latest vaccine report.
In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice said in a news conference Monday that nearly 74,000 seniors had received at least one dose of vaccine – about 20% of the state’s 65 and older population.
While vaccine administration may be moving faster in some states, the focus on the senior population may not be as high.
In Michigan, for example, vaccine administration is 17% faster than Florida. But only 17% of seniors in the state have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard.