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Assisted living facilities offer housing and care for active seniors who may need support with activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing, and medication management.

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Residential care homes are shared neighborhood homes for seniors who need a live-in caregiver to assist with activities of daily living, like dressing and bathing.

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VA benefits for long-term care, such as Aid and Attendance benefits, can help eligible veterans and their surviving spouses pay for senior care.

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Home care relies on trained aides to provide companionship and non-medical care for seniors living at home.

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Memory care facilities provide housing, care, and therapies for seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia in an environment designed to reduce confusion and prevent wandering.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Accessibility and Resources for Seniors

Kara Lewis
By Kara LewisMarch 12, 2021
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Eileen Koutelas, a 72-year-old Florida resident, devoted hours to signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. When she tried to register on her county’s website, it crashed due to high demand. She turned to the toll-free hotline, only to be met with a busy signal. Then, Koutelas found out about a vaccination pilot program at Publix Super Markets—but that wasn’t the end of her struggle.

After learning about vaccine availability at Publix, Koutelas and her partner woke up at 5 a.m. one morning to secure appointments.

“We were both on our computers,” Koutelas recalls. “We booked one appointment. A few hours later, we finally got another. By 10 a.m., every appointment was filled.”

Later that week, the pair drove an hour and a half to the Publix where they’d scheduled their vaccine appointments. Now, because of their persistence, Koutelas and her partner have each received both doses of the Moderna vaccine.

This long process mirrors the situation many seniors across the country have encountered. In mid-January, 29 states expanded vaccine eligibility to encompass all people 65 and older. However, a recent survey of 1,563 adults conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly 60% of those seniors expressed confusion about when and where they could get vaccinated. This number surged among seniors of color and seniors living in rural areas.

However, new COVID-19 policies, rising vaccine confidence among seniors, and prioritization of vaccinating residents in long-term care facilities all account for steady progress in preventing cases of COVID-19. In fact, more than 4.5 million seniors in long-term care facilities have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If your senior loved one resides in long-term care, they’ve likely received the vaccine or have an upcoming appointment scheduled. For seniors outside of long-term care, however, additional resources may be necessary.

Potential vaccination barriers for seniors

Some of the most prevalent barriers to vaccination for older adults include a lack of familiarity with, or access to, the internet, high demand for the vaccine, and indirect communication about eligibility and the vaccination process.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) urged leaders to address these challenges in a recent letter to Congress.

“We continue to hear from members who are struggling to make appointments, including those who do not have access to the internet. Currently, the process to make an appointment varies state to state or even county by country,” wrote AARP executive vice president Nancy LeaMond.

“Americans over the age of 50 are unsure how to make or confirm their appointment, and are deeply frustrated and increasingly desperate. Many do not have access to the internet or do not have experience using online appointment systems. In addition, some states require individuals to visit multiple websites just to monitor vaccine appointment availability. We urge the federal government to work with states to develop 1-800 numbers for scheduling vaccine appointments that are centralized, well-staffed, and offer culturally competent customer service.”

According to a recent Gallup poll, more Americans than ever have expressed willingness and enthusiasm toward being vaccinated. The February survey found 71% of Americans said they would get vaccinated, compared to the 65% recorded in July and 50% recorded in September.

These rising numbers outpace the quantity of vaccine dosages available. Currently, doctors are administering approximately 2 million vaccinations a day, according to National Public Radio’s (NPR) vaccine tracker.

On the positive side, this number is set to increase. Representatives for Pfizer and Moderna expect 3 million vaccinations to be available each day in April. Recently, President Joe Biden expressed confidence that supply would increase enough for every interested adult in the U.S. to be vaccinated by the end of May, a notable improvement upon the administration’s earlier forecast.

Resources to keep seniors informed about the COVID-19 vaccination process

Find out where to get vaccinated by searching your zip code in these databases, which show vaccine locations near you and offer more information about priority group status:

Seniors can also call their local public health department or visit its website by searching this directory of local health departments. Seniors may also be able to get vaccinated at the following grocery and pharmacy chains:

  • Kroger
  • Albertsons
  • CVS
  • Publix
  • Walgreen’s
  • H-E-B
  • Hy-Vee
  • Rite Aid
  • Target
  • Winn-Dixie
  • Costco

Community organizations near you—including churches, synagogues, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapters, and Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities—may also offer vaccinations or assistance signing up for a vaccine appointment.

To increase vaccine availability on a larger scale, seniors and caregivers can contact their elected officials and encourage them to advocate for broad, effective COVID-19 relief policies.

Sources:

Kaiser Family Foundation. “Vaccine Distribution.” https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/report/kff-covid-19-vaccine-monitor-january-2021/

Gallup. “Two-Thirds of Americans Not Satisfied with Vaccine Rollout.” https://news.gallup.com/poll/329552/two-thirds-americans-not-satisfied-vaccine-rollout.aspx

U.S. Census Bureau. “Computer and Internet Use in the United States.” https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2018/acs/ACS-39.pdf

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Kara Lewis
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Kara Lewis

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