Vulnerable seniors ‘hunting and pecking’ on the net in look for of scarce COVID-19 vaccine

Feb. 3—Nancy Hogan’s tale is prevalent when it arrives to seeking for COVID-19 vaccines.


Hogan, 84, of College Put, told The Information Tribune in a new cellular phone job interview that without the need of staying tech savvy and dwelling independently, she’s experienced no luck making an attempt to get vaccinated in Pierce County.

On-line scheduling has been out of her achieve, she reported, as she’s not utilised to modern day-working day laptop technology.

“I necessarily mean I have been a typist all my lifestyle, an office supervisor. When the computers had been just personal computers I was wonderful, acquiring my way all around,” Hogan stated. “but given that they have grow to be all this mad stuff, I never come across my way all over.”

She’s relied on a mate to appear for a vaccine appointment on line.

“Just final night she known as me that she experienced to do very a little bit of looking, and looks like I is not going to be able to get it right until March or April,” Hogan claimed. “Which is not excellent information to any individual who’s been hunkering down in her residence for months and months. And I will not even go to my doctor’s appointments anymore because I’m so terrified of acquiring it.”

Officials across the nation are remaining confronted with stories of how seniors are ever more being squeezed out of the very vaccine materials designed offered to them in the recent section.

To that stop, point out and regional officials are pairing distributors with businesses as one way to tackle the difficulty and performing to strengthen outreach.

It can be not just a Washington condition trouble or a people-without-computer system-competencies challenge.

Carol Stewart, 72, of Albany, Oregon, advised The Information Tribune in a cellular phone interview that in her point out, there are couple updates created widely accessible from community officials on the internet.

“I have attempted to go on-line to come across something for Linn County to whether I could get on some type of a record, and I haven’t been in a position to uncover anything at all that implies a hold out checklist,” she explained. “I will not know regardless of whether it really is just me or regardless of whether it is really not seriously there.”

Stewart put herself on a listing in Benton County, Oregon, “just to kind of listen to what’s likely on in the neighboring county.”

Stewart mentioned she spends about 10 minutes just about every working day on-line hunting for updates. Possessing provided up cable Television several years back, she reported, “I believed I would listen to something on the radio, some update there.”

So much. Almost nothing.

“I necessarily mean, when they chat about COVID around and in excess of and more than on the radio, or info coming out of Portland and when you have bought your governor on the radio, you believe, ‘OK, well, that’s a great ample supply. I’m all excellent. And then you feel, ‘Well, I you should not know anything at all however.’ But I need to know, I experience, at this level, correct?”

Hogan agreed.

“I necessarily mean, it ought to be right out there — you do not have to go searching and pecking and praying just about every night that you are likely to luck on to a thing,” Hogan explained.

“It is ridiculous.”

She and quite a few other seniors searching for the vaccine have advised The Information Tribune they never use social media such as Twitter, where the Tacoma-Pierce County Well being Section has posted registration back links for vaccines, along with its web site

Hogan and Stewart’s cases are a aggravating situation for state and community officials striving to assistance men and women out of attain of Twitter and on-line registrations for mass vaccination gatherings.


Seniors, amid the most susceptible to the coronavirus, have been eligible to acquire COVID-19 vaccines in Washington condition given that mid-January. Numerous who are part of that population may possibly uncover it difficult or unattainable to access technological know-how and resources to efficiently keep track of down doses.

Michele Roberts, who’s foremost COVID-19 vaccine preparing and distribution at the condition Department of Wellness (DOH), explained the section is sharing facts via space organizations on getting older, senior facilities and other group partners in purchase to achieve those people people.

A further key aspect of the equation: Making certain cellular phone strains can deal with an inflow of phone calls at the state stage and regional providers offering the everyday living-conserving vaccine.

“It really is truly multifaceted with a whole lot of distinctive persons working on it to ensure there are several techniques folks will know about how to get vaccine,” Roberts claimed at a press meeting Jan. 26.

As of Feb. 2, state DOH had noted much more than 728,636 doses of the vaccine presented statewide.

There are many additional people suitable for the probably daily life-conserving shot than there are doses coming in from the federal govt, and vaccine appointments fill up immediately.

In the course of Tuesday morning’s signup for two mass vaccination clinics in East Pierce County, readily available appointments for a mixed 3,500 men and women ended up filled within 22 minutes.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Wellbeing Section reported additional clinics are on the way, and this 7 days Safeway-Albertsons introduced that all of its pharmacies would have COVID-19 vaccine allocations as early as Feb. 11.

The company also mentioned that appointments could only be booked online.

A single breakthrough of reaching individuals without having computer systems has been for entities this sort of as Safeway to spouse with nearby companies.

To that finish, the grocery retailer lately worked with Pierce County Overall health and Human Providers “to detect all those with accessibility limitations and hosted them at two of our suppliers in Tacoma,” company representative Sara Osborne advised The Information Tribune on Tuesday by means of e mail. “PCHHS provided the transportation and interpreter, and we reserved the appointments for them —150 people today.”

“We will be working with Pierce County on an ongoing foundation on these, as perfectly as Metro Parks Tacoma to identify some places for internet hosting off-web-site clinics if essential,” Osborne wrote.

DOH factors individuals to its on line Section Finder device to start any statewide search for a vaccine.

The instrument isn’t going to timetable appointments but shows a record of vetted providers who have shared their details with DOH. A individual can abide by that provider’s hyperlink for scheduling information.

The condition also operates a “COVID-19 Aid Hotline” (800-525-0127, then press #). The hotline has professional “significant volumes of calls” not too long ago and carries on to incorporate staff to satisfy the need to have for aid with the on the web scheduling equipment, Franji Mayes, DOH spokesperson, said by using e mail.

An optional variety also has been built readily available: 888-856-5816.

Hotline capacity for encouraging people today make appointments is centered on the state’s 4 mass-vaccination internet sites, according to Mayes. All those internet sites are found in Benton, Clark, Chelan, and Spokane counties.

Aid for generating appointments at those web pages is obtainable 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., in accordance to Mayes.

The hotline also can support persons with Phase Finder, in accordance to Mayes, but any one needing support earning an appointment at a locale other than these mass-vaccination web-sites will nevertheless require to make contact with that supplier.

In the close, she pointed to obtaining enable to navigate the on t
he internet alternatives as the subsequent-greatest method to likely on the web you.

“We’re strongly encouraging individuals to use Stage Finder and make appointments with the on line back links,” she wrote. “If they are not comfortable using the on-line equipment, asking a good friend or spouse and children member may well be the future finest option. This allows the hotline to be far more accessible for those who have no net access or guidance.”

The office is “wanting for ways to make scheduling more available and equitable,” she wrote.


Karen Irwin is communications direct for the nearby overall health department’s COVID reaction.

Irwin informed The Information Tribune by means of email that for now, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Section delivers a subscription email listing “for people intrigued in receiving information about upcoming clinics and pop-up clinics.”

Which is out there at

The well being office noted it had 14,200 subscribers to its e mail list because incorporating the solution late Thursday.

The division lists its future gatherings at and delivers one-way links to registration by using its social media accounts and on its web-site.

“We get facts, these as how considerably vaccine will be accessible extremely shut to scheduled situations. Given these kinds of large need, spots will fill really rapidly,” Irwin observed.

As for a cell phone choice for the mass vaccine events, that is even now in the works.

“At this time, vaccine registration will rely on a pc-based mostly system. We are tricky at do the job on other remedies, this kind of as cellphone registration solutions. We will give a lot more alternatives for neighborhood clinics in the weeks and months forward,” she explained by means of e-mail Jan. 28.

The use of social media has significantly been a stage of frustration for some seniors.

“The TPCHD website made it very clear that phoning was not an solution,” wrote Catherine Taylor, 70, of Tacoma in an e-mail to The Information Tribune. She mentioned she gave up on social media all through the presidential election and proliferation of disinformation.

“What about the people today who’ve designed related possibilities or who have never ever experienced social media accounts … ?” Taylor wrote. “What about men and women who will not own a personal computer or are much too poor to pay out for broadband connections?”

She signed on to the mailing listing, went to the department’s event registration web site Tuesday morning, but reported it hardly ever showed the hyperlinks to sign up when she tried out it Tuesday.

“I am sure I’m not by itself in my irritation. Getting accessibility to vaccinations on which my lifetime may well depend should really not be as challenging as finding tickets to a Fleetwood Mac concert,” Taylor said through electronic mail.

The section shared an archived display grab with The Information Tribune that confirmed back links on the web site.

“We loaded 3,500 appointments, 1,000 at Franklin Pierce and 2,500 at the fairgrounds, in 22 minutes,” Irwin mentioned via electronic mail.

“After that time, the link was closed.”

Other nearby agencies have stepped in to try out to assist enhance outreach.

Kari Moore, general public information and facts professional for Pierce County Human Providers, told The Information Tribune through electronic mail in response to queries that Growing old and Disability Sources has been coordinating with the local overall health division “to guidance their more mature adult vaccine outreach system.”

“We operate carefully with the Section of Emergency Administration to hold older grownups and other susceptible populations up to date with the newest vaccine facts by our Growing older and Incapacity Useful resource Heart and community partners,” Moore claimed. “If they really don’t have net accessibility or need to have assist online, we can assistance navigate the DOH Period Finder software.”

She reported ADR with TPCHD hosts vaccine shows at conferences with a regional ageing company network, Overall health Care Suppliers Council, and the Getting old and Incapacity Resource Heart (ADRC) group discussion board.

“We go on to offer free of charge, instructional workshops to the community on similar subject areas these as property and facility security steps, PPE and extra,” Moore reported.

“TPCHD and our Department of Unexpected emergency Administration Access and Purposeful Demands Coordinator have also been providing comparable outreach and instruction to our neighborhood partners at the Facilities for Independence, WA Condition Impartial Living Council and DSHS,” she extra.

It’s not just academic outreach. Getting older and Incapacity Sources “has dispersed 3,500 COVID House Security Kits,” she wrote.

“These kits present a File of Lifetime, two fabric masks, hand sanitizer and information on COVID. Additionally, we have worked with senior facilities to supply necessary groceries to more mature grownups in have to have,” Moore stated. “To date, we have dispersed 550 grocery baggage that involve canned merchandise, cleaning goods, experience masks, tub tissue and far more.”

File of Everyday living is a clinical ID that gives health-related facts of allergic reactions, prescription drugs and a lot more to emergency clinical providers.

Even though all of all those are important wants, certain vaccine distribution continues to be hindered by provide and in the long run in lots of situations, outreach through telephone for people to dial in and make appointments anywhere, anytime.


For now, many are nevertheless turning to good friends and kin to support them find a precious appointment for a COVID vaccine.

Gov. Jay Inslee, in current remarks, place some of the onus on every person to aid seniors.

“1 of the issues — it is really like in any crisis, in an earthquake, or a mudslide at Oso — what I have realized is that a sizeable portion of the rescue is by people today, it is by us,” he reported. “It is really using care of our neighbors, our relations, extending a hand.”

Grandkids can assistance their grandparents, he said as an illustration.

“This is a instant in time in which all of us can action up and enable people.”

Amid all the aggravation, there is certainly a delighted ending for at least one of the seniors interviewed for this article.

Hogan’s son received her a vaccine appointment as a result of the regional wellness department’s lightening spherical of registrations Tuesday early morning.

“He stated he had a dickens of a time acquiring by means of. He mentioned there was just every person backed up on all people,” in attempting to get the sort stuffed out and a spot reserved, she claimed.

“I’m scheduled together with my partner on Thursday afternoon at Puyallup fairgrounds. Praise God. I am so relieved,” she explained.

“I’m not going any place until finally then make certain I never occur into call with anybody and then I am heading to quarantine myself for two months afterwards right until I get the 2nd shot.”

For more information and facts, see The Information Tribune’s tutorial to vaccines in Pierce County.

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