By David Fleet
Brandon Twp.- The race for the COVID-19 vaccination is now heating up—but one sector of the community may be lagging just behind.
In Oakland county, sign-ups are ramping up with more than 500,000 already on a variety of lists at several facilities. When it comes to scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination often healthcare providers require patients to sign up online, a task that is often difficult for the older population.
Faye Bindig, Edna Burton Senior Center coordinator has served at the senior center since 1992. And like many community centers they have been closed to gatherings due to the pandemic, however, she still answer the phones during the week.
“Many seniors are calling us to help get an appointment for the vaccine,” said Bindig. “Many seniors may not have a home computer or even internet access. The technology gap can be a very real problem to set up the vaccine appointment. They often have a cell phone, but that can be difficult to navigate.
“If help with online scheduling is needed, officials recommend reaching out to family or friends. But not everyone has family or friends to help.”
Bindig also said if seniors need assistance getting to an appointments one will be provided. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Among adults, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk.
Bill Mullan, Media and Communications officer for Oakland County said they are aware of the technology issue.
For those that don’t have access, Oakland County officials suggest use The Nurse on Call (NOC) telephone service (800) 848-5533 which offers information about health and related resources. Calls are answered by Oakland County Health Division Public Health Nurses. Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. – noon. The call demand is very high and waits should be expected.
“Every one will get answered,” said Mullan. “Due to the volume, we increased our phone bank to 80 lines available to the public.
The demand is high the supply is limited, he said.
“As of Feb. 23 we have about 250,000 does in the arms of county residents,” he said. “Currently there are more than 200,000 seniors 65 years old and up in the county. Currently, we are still in phase 1A and 1B and are vaccinating long term care centers in Oakland County, not covered by the federal government.”