Helping the elderly access a COVID-19 vaccine
The phased distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has now reached those who are 70 and older. Edwin Hayes, MD, addressed some of the barriers people may be experiencing and offered suggestions for what we can all do to help.
What are some barriers that may be preventing people from accessing the vaccine?
Access and general logistics. “The number of people we need to vaccinate to meet the goal of eradicating this virus is far beyond what we have been able to do so far. We need more people to give vaccines. We need more locations to give the vaccines and more accessibility for people who don’t have reliable transportation. This is something health departments and local hospital systems are working furiously to fix,” said Dr. Hayes. “The more vaccine that becomes available, the more we’ll be able to overcome those hurdles.”
Technology. The online form for vaccine registration can be a major barrier for individuals over 70. “If you have someone in your life who meets the criteria, reach out to them and help guide them with the technology required to sign up and schedule their vaccination,” said Dr. Hayes.
Mistrust of the healthcare system. “There are communities that don’t trust the healthcare system. We need to work with leaders they do trust in their community to help them get through the process quickly and safely,” said Dr. Hayes.
Some may think cost will be a barrier for the vaccine, but there is no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine.
What can you do to help?
Offer assistance. Our elderly population is directly affected by the technology barrier. Reach out to friends or family who might need help. They may need you to set up an email address, sign them up for the vaccine and even schedule their appointment.
Speak up. By sharing your questions and concerns, the barriers can be better understood and broken down. Help your healthcare provider and health department understand how they can reach you, your friends and your family with this vaccine.
Educate yourself. “If you have questions about the safety of the vaccine or the process for distribution, reach out to people you trust – your doctor or nurse – to help,” said Dr. Hayes.
Have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine?
Find answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, including how to get the shot.