SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - For seniors getting vaccinated, many are dealing with challenges like long and slow-moving lines at vaccine locations.
For the elderly -- sometimes with walkers, aches and pains -- standing in long lines can be as much a challenge as using computers to make appointments. Karen Jackson of Moorpark had technical challenges.
She told us her husband got the appointments because she is "computer illiterate". Her husband Wayne told us the cyber landscape can be hard to navigate for those not good with computers.
He says, "Sometimes you go to the wrong place. You go off to another site and then it gets confusing."
That confusion can trickle down to the sites where vaccines are being given. Not only are there supersites like Dodger Stadium, but lots of pharmacies now are starting to give vaccines.
We went to the Vons Pharmacy in Simi Valley at Erringer and Sycamore. Hala Morsi is the Pharmacy manager. She says there is a lot more work now and it’s not just filling prescriptions but also a lot of hand-holding with seniors to help them navigate the vaccine system.
Says Morsi, "It’s stressful. I’m not going to lie to you. I’m trying to answer all of the questions about the vaccine on the phone or when they come to the counter. We try our best to help everybody."
Judy Bovill helped out her friend Arax Isagholian make an appointment because she couldn’t use a computer. They preferred a pharmacy to a Dodger-Stadium-like site.
"Because it’s closer," said Isagholian.
Willem Henning is the district pharmacy manager for Vons. At this store, they just received a shipment of 300 fresh doses of the Moderna vaccine. Here, they give about 80 shots a day and boast of a distinct advantage over large super-sites.
Says Henning, "Most residents in SoCal live within 10 to 15 minutes of a retail pharmacy so regardless of which retail pharmacy you prefer that’s your most accessible location and our pharmacists have a very personal relationship with their pharmacist."
Pharmacist Morsi says, "I’ve been in this place almost eighteen years so I know everybody. I know the elderly."
The pharmacy manager says she’s noticed that a lot of customers have been bypassing the online appointment sites and just walking in the stores to get shots. But she says she’s spending a lot of time now trying to help them figure out how to make an appointment because customers can’t just walk in and get a shot without one.
Morsi says, "A lot of the elderly don’t have internet. They don’t even have a cell phone so it’s very hard for them to communicate."
Morsi is determined to help seniors. It’s personal. she says she’s lost three regular customers to COVID-19.
She says, "It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking... That’s why I’m pushing the vaccine and why we’re doing so much every day. We need it to be here. We need the vaccine. We need everyone to get it especially the elderly because those are the ones I’m losing. I lost three and it shouldn’t be this way."
For the frustrated or computer-challenged there are old-fashioned telephone hotlines at each county public health department that may be of help.