Seniors who are 80 and older in the Southwestern public health region can now get a bit of extra help if they’re having trouble booking a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, health officials said.
Southwestern public health announced Thursday it has introduced a new “help list” for older seniors.
“Seniors and their family members have told us that booking online is challenging and that the phone lines were sometimes very difficult to get through,” said Jaime Fletcher, manager of the health unit’s vaccination task force. “We don’t want technology to be a barrier to health.”
Seniors born in 1941 or before can add their name to the help list and will be contacted by a public health representative with a date and time for a vaccine appointment. If they can’t take that appointment, they will be called again at another time.
Residents using the help list will be asked about their eligibility, preferred clinic location, and whether they can make it to a vaccination site within 30 minutes, if necessary.
“There is such a demand for vaccine it can overwhelm the booking technology and telephone technology,” Dr. Joyce Lock, medical officer of health, said. “Individuals can put themselves on a list. When we have extra spots, we will call you to come to us.
“We do encourage everyone to use online or telephone booking, but if you had trouble with that – if you’re elderly – you can inform the health unit that you’re interested in the vaccine.”
The health unit will start by offering mostly same-day appointments from end-of-day doses or missed appointments, though once there’s a better idea of how many seniors will be using the service they will expand clinic availability, the health unit said in a statement.
Family members, doctors and community agencies can also add a senior’s name to the help list to be contacted, though only with their permission.
While currently only available for seniors over the age of 80, Southwestern public health said it expects the help list will be expanded in the coming weeks.
The help list can be found on the Southwestern public health website at forms.swpublichealth.ca/COVID-19-help-list.