EAGAN, Minn., Sept. 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- While 90% of Minnesota seniors have been vaccinated against COVID-19i, not all are returning to their pre-pandemic activities at the same rate, according to a new survey from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.
The Blue Cross survey found that one in five vaccinated seniors has yet to visit with any family or friends, while two in five still don't feel comfortable socializing with unvaccinated grandchildren. This reluctance is particularly notable as the survey was conducted before the current surge in delta variant infections as well as news reports that nearly one-third of recent infections are considered breakthrough amongst fully vaccinated Minnesotans. According to the survey:
More than half of vaccinated seniors say they are very concerned about COVID-19 variants
Two in three vaccinated seniors have experienced anxiety, depression, fear, isolation or frustration since the start of the pandemic
A majority of vaccinated seniors are not satisfied with their health, with one-third of regular exercisers in pre-pandemic times still waiting to engage in a post-vaccine exercise regimen
At the same time, other vaccinated seniors are beginning to return to the every-day casual and social activities they pursued before life was disrupted by COVID-19. Two-thirds of vaccinated seniors report having regular face-to-face interactions with others, and more than half are returning to public spaces like restaurants, barbershops, salons, shopping centers and theaters.
"The COVID-19 vaccine remains the best tool we have to prevent infection with, and serious illness and hospitalization from, COVID-19," said Dr. Mark Steffen, vice president and chief medical officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. "The vaccine has been a liberator for many Minnesota seniors as they start to return to the activities they've missed most, but the pandemic is definitely taking its toll. Socializing outdoors while the weather is still nice is a great way to stay connected to friends and family, but with breakthrough infections on the rise, it's important that seniors continue to protect themselves and others by wearing masks indoors in areas where there are high levels of COVID-19 transmission even if they are vaccinated."
As with earlier in the pandemic, mitigating social isolation and loneliness remains important as previous studies have linked them to serious medical conditions, including dementia, heart disease, depression and anxiety.ii
John Hines, a long-time radio personality in the Twin Cities and a vaccinated senior himself, has partnered with Blue Cross to raise awareness of health issues facing seniors and agrees that others in his age group need to help support one another.
"Make plans to see the people you care about in whatever way allows everyone to feel safe, and keep connecting over the phone or online," Hines said. "The best way to get through this is together."
Minnesota seniors are showing they are still focused on promoting their health, the Blue Cross survey found. Among vaccinated seniors, 95% are still following at least one COVID-19 precaution, such as washing hands often, wearing a mask or avoiding crowds. Additionally, 63% of seniors report having a more active lifestyle now that they're vaccinated than they did earlier in the pandemic.
"I've done my best to get outside and get moving," Hines said. "With our health front and center at all times, seniors are focusing more on goals like these that can really benefit us."
For more information on senior perspectives amid COVID-19 and additional health tips, visit bluecrossmn.com/seniors.
Survey methodology: Blue Cross surveyed 500 Minnesota residents at least 64 years of age who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson). The survey was fielded July 26 to Aug. 13, 2021.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota For nearly 90 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (bluecrossmn.com) has supported the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of our members by striving to ensure equitable access to high quality care at an affordable price. We are on a mission to inspire change, transform care and improve health for the people and communities we serve by reinventing both ourselves and the broader system. Our more than 2.5 million members can be found in every Minnesota county, all 50 states and on four continents. As a proud nonprofit organization, we believe working to advance wellness for all Minnesotans is the greatest investment we can make. Our goal is nothing less than for everyone to be able to achieve their full health potential, regardless of race or other socially defined circumstances. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, which serves more than 107 million members across the U.S.