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Seniors advocate calls for clearer COVID-19 test guidelines

A local seniors action group is voicing concerns around COVID-19 testing guidelines for seniors.

Comox Valley Elders Take Action Co-ordinator Jennifer Pass says the current wave of COVID-19 has placed big stress on seniors. She says this is mainly because of testing guidelines on the BC CDC website.

“It hasn’t been better and in a lot of ways I think it has been worse,” said Pass. “I think it’s even more difficult for seniors because we’re more likely to become isolated.”

Pass says many seniors find the definitions for testing and treatment on the website confusing. The group presses that during this time seniors need to feel safe and current guidelines do not allow for that.

She adds as seniors are more at risk for severe disease, testing could be more available to them. However, she says guidelines on the CDC make it seem like seniors can’t get a test if they’re over 60 and have had a booster.

The BC CDC website says testing is recommended when a positive or negative test result will help decide treatment and care. They say this includes people who are:

  • Pregnant
  • Currently hospitalized (any age)
  • At risk of more severe disease and eligible for treatment
  • Live or work in settings with others who are high risk.

They say those with mild symptoms don’t need a test and they recommend people stay home until they feel better.

Seniors who are double vaxxed can qualify to be tested if they are eligible for treatment. Being eligible for treatment depends on the risk for severe disease.

The CDC does, however, recommend testing for seniors who are 60 years of age and older who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

Pass says determining if an individual is eligible for treatment is more complicated for seniors. She says seniors are at a higher risk of severe disease but may not qualify for treatment.

“I think because we have a lot of comorbidities,” said Pass. “So they’re living with anxiety with those conditions.”

A page devoted to seniors and care would be a solution along with making tests available to seniors in general, according to Pass.

“Make it nice and simple and allow us to get tests if we have symptoms that cause us concern,” she said. “You’re dealing with seniors who are anxious and think ‘maybe I can’t get a test’ and so what they do is stay at home and get worse and worse.”

Other issues for seniors during the pandemic have included extreme weather events in the summer and winter.

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