Seniors Struggling to Get Vaccine Appointments

Americans over the age of 65 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in numerous states, but trying to get them has become a nightmare for many. Some older citizens have had to travel hundreds of miles to get their shots, and others say even securing an appointment is challenging.

According to The Wall Street Journal, people in Texas are signing up on multiple lists in grocery stores and clinics hoping to get a slot. In Nevada, online registration bumps hopefuls from county websites to state websites and back.

“I can figure out how to teach calculus,” said Lisa Crosby, of Reno, Nevada. “But I can’t figure out how to get my parents vaccinated.” Only about 40% of the vaccines that have been distributed throughout the U.S. have been administered, and while 30 states now allow those over 65 to join the vaccine eligibility list along with healthcare workers and first responders, the process has left many of them frustrated.

In Illinois, 67-year-old Bryan Harvey, who is wheelchair bound, had little luck finding an online appointment in his county. Finally, his son stepped in and worked day and night trying to secure a vaccine for his father, finally snagging a slot after hitting the refresh button repeatedly, according to the Journal.

Brain Ortiz, 65, has been logging on every night at midnight trying to get his COVID-19 vaccine. So far, the retired high school counselor who lives in Oceanside, New York, has only been able to find available appointments hours away from his home.

According to Kaiser Health News, people who aren’t computer savvy or may not even have access to computers or smartphones and those who lack transportation face an uphill battle to get inoculated.

As states across the U.S. rollout the COVID-19 vaccine to people 65 and older, seniors are scrambling to figure out how to sign up to get their shots, according to reports. Most counties require that individuals apply for their shots online, but many older folks find the complicated procedures bedeviling, and others do not have access to the internet, especially people of color and those who are poor.

Dr. Anand Iyer, a pulmonologist from Alabama, runs a clinic for more than 200 indigent adults and says that 70% of them are Black and many are older.

“I would estimate that 10% to 20% are at risk of missing out on vaccines because they’re homebound, live alone, don’t have transportation, or lack reliable social connections,” he said, according to KHN. “Unfortunately, those are the same factors that put them at risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19.”

Language issues are also an obstacle, says Yanira Cruz, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging. “I’m very concerned that older adults who are not fluent in English, who don’t have a family member to help them navigate online, and who don’t have access to private transportation are going to be left out during the current rollout,” she said.

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