Council on Aging helps older adults access COVID-19 vaccine

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

SPRINGDALE, OHIO, Feb. 17, 2021 Council on Aging (COA), the Area Agency on Aging for southwestern Ohio (Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton and Warren counties) is working to help older adults get vaccinated against COVID-19. Older adults in COA’s service area who need help finding a vaccination site or help getting to a vaccine appointment can contact COA at (513) 721-1025.

Older adults have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Though adults age 60 and older make up less than one-quarter of positive COVID-19 cases in Ohio, this age groups accounts for 67 percent of hospitalizations and 93 percent of deaths. In the U.S., eight out of 10 coronavirus deaths have been in adults age 65 and older.

 Since the start of the pandemic, COA has provided support to thousands of older adults in the community through distribution of food, essential personal care items and personal protective equipment.

“For the past year, older adults have been following public health guidelines to protect themselves from COVID-19. They have been isolated from friends, family, caregivers and other support networks,” said Ken Wilson, COA’s vice president of program operations. “Now that we have a vaccine to fight this virus, older adults are hopeful their lives can return to normal. We all want to return to normal. That’s why it’s important we do everything we can to help older adults get vaccinated.”

Currently, adults age 65 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. COA is working with local health departments, the Health Collaborative, local vaccine providers and the Ohio Department of Aging to help as many older adults as possible get vaccinated.

Older adults are having difficulty getting vaccinated for two primary reasons: 1) there is not currently enough vaccine to meet the demand; and 2) most vaccine registration systems require use of a computer or smart phone to make an appointment – a barrier for many older adults. There is also confusion about where older adults can go for assistance in navigating a fragmented vaccine system.

Here’s how Council on Aging is helping older adults get vaccinated:

Helping older adults find vaccine providers in their community. Older adults can contact COA for help finding vaccine providers in their community. Call (513) 721-1025 for assistance.

  • When possible, COA will schedule the appointment or add the individual to a provider’s waiting list. In other cases, COA staff provide information about locations individuals can monitor to find out when vaccine will be available.
  • COA staff are monitoring the situation with local providers daily. COA tracks which providers are currently scheduling appointments, building waiting lists or holding clinics.
  • COA recommends older adults – when they are eligible – register with their local health department for a vaccine. This can be done in addition to looking elsewhere in the community for the vaccine.

Getting older adults to their vaccine appointment. Transportation is an issue for many older adults but should not be a barrier to getting vaccinated.

  • When older adults call for assistance in finding vaccine providers, COA also screens the caller to determine if they need transportation assistance for their appointment.
  • When an older adult is unable to drive to a vaccine appoint and lacks transportation support (friend, family, caregiver), COA can arrange transportation to and from the vaccine appointment.
  • There is no fee for the transportation service, but it is limited to individuals who have no other transportation options.
  • COA is unable to accommodate same-day requests. Three days’ notice when requesting transportation is preferred. Transportation is available for weekend appointments, with advance notice.
  • Vaccine providers can schedule transportation for patients at https://www.home52.org/covidtransport/.

Assisting with local National Guard vaccination clinics. COA has provided logistical and onsite support for three vaccination clinics held at Hamilton County low-income senior apartment buildings. More than 300 older adults were vaccinated at these sites.

  • COA staff coordinated with members of the National Guard, health department and building management staff to prepare each site for their clinic.
  • COA staff coordinated with transportation providers to bus in older adults from other nearby apartment buildings.
  • COA provided printed materials, including vaccine forms, posters and information sheets prior to each clinic. 
  • On the day of the clinics, COA staff assisted with registration, provided information and referral support to older adults who were vaccinated, and coordinated local media activity.

For assistance finding a vaccination provider or arranging transportation, call Council on Aging at (513) 721-1025. COA’s call center is open Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm.