Senior vaccination frustrations continue

Online queues for vaccine appointments continue to top 100,00 people

WESTFIELD- Council on Aging Director Tina Gorman said Tuesday morning that the frustrations relating to getting Westfield seniors vaccinated have continued. 

Gorman said that the limited availability of vaccine doses combined with the addition of teachers as an eligible group has made it difficult to help senior citizens in Westfield to get registered to receive their own doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Seniors are having the same problems they have had in the last six weeks,” said Gorman. 

Butch Cherbonneau picks up a lunch from Council on Aging Director Tina Gorman during a curbside lunch distribution. The COA is now  helping seniors make vaccination appointments. (MARC ST. ONGE/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

She described the online waiting queues to become registered for the vaccine as being more than 100,000 persons long. She also noted that those 75-years-old and older are typically not as technologically savvy as those younger than them, making it more difficult to set up an appointment for a group Gorman considers to be a vaccination priority. 

As a result, Gorman said the Council on Aging will be limiting their registration assistance efforts to those who are 75 and older.

“A lot of times though the younger seniors who are computer savvy also can’t get an appointment,” said Gorman, “We don’t have any better access to availability than they do.”

Gorman said that so far at least 80 Westfield seniors have received assistance in getting their vaccination appointments set up with another 85 who are actively in the process of being registered.  

The Council on Aging is also working on a plan to get some of its volunteers vaccinated and trained to help drive seniors to their vaccine appointments. They are using money from a Community Development Block Grant to purchase PPE for the vehicles to make the volunteer drivers safer. 

“At this point the volunteers have at least got their first shot or are registered to do so,” said Gorman.

She said the program should be ready in the coming weeks. She expects that most of the transportation will be to the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, the closest major mass vaccination site to Westfield.

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