State officials working on ways to help elderly Tennesseans make vaccine appointments

Helping older residents sign up for vaccine

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Signing up for a second dose can be a challenge -- those appointment slots are often filled within minutes of going online. And Tennessee health officials acknowledge older residents may need help navigating the system.

We’ve gotten a lot of calls into our newsroom from people 70 years and older who do not have computers or transportation but want the COVID-19 vaccine. Help is on the way according to the state of Tennessee and the state is working with health departments to find those people.

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“It’s not quite as simple as just telling Tennessee’s population ‘hey just go out there and get a vaccine’ because there’s oftentimes a need for assistance particularly when it comes to technology,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey.

Piercey says two out of three Tennesseans aged 70 and older are unvaccinated and people in those age groups are 70% more likely to die from COVID-19.

“About 40% of seniors in Tennessee live alone,” said Piercey. “Some of them are very independent and active and some of them are very dependent. They need help with both technology and transportation.”

And the state is looking for those people who need help.

“We are pushing to find these individuals that do want to be vaccinated,” said Commissioner Jim Shulman with the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability.

Shulman says he is working with AARP Tennessee and similar groups to find the people 70 and over who need help.

“We have provided the state health departments with a contact in every county to provide help regarding help providing senior information.”

Piercey says the public can also help by reaching out to older people who need help.

The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability recommends seniors who need help getting the vaccine could use senior centers as a resource to find out what to do.

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