Sign-up worries weigh on seniors

  • Staff Sgt. Marcialiced Arrendondo of the 157th Mission Support Group answers a call from the 211 help line Jan. 12 at the Edward Cross Training Center in Pembroke.

  • Tech. Sgt. Alan Roma, an engineer with the 157th Civil Engineer Squadron, assists a caller on the 211 help line on Jan. 12. Those who are unable to sign up at vaccines.nh.gov are directed to call 2-1-1 for assistance. Staff Sgt. Victoria Nelson photos / N.H. National Guard

The Keene Sentinel
Published: 1/21/2021 5:11:16 PM

Jeannine Agard thinks she’ll try to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it opens to people 65 and older on Friday — that is, if she can figure out how to schedule an appointment.

“A lot of these old people, they don’t have cellphones, they don’t even have computers, so how are they going to register?” said Agard, 67, of Keene.

Starting at 8 a.m., New Hampshire residents 65 and up — among other groups — can sign up for a vaccination appointment on vaccines.nh.gov.

The state health department said that people without internet or who have trouble with computers can call its 2-1-1 hotline for help, though an “extremely high” call volume is anticipated.

In preparation, 200 N.H. National Guard and state employees have been repurposed to assist at the call center, according to spokeswoman Laura Montenegro.

Agard said she will probably call the hotline rather than try to make an appointment online.

“I can’t do it. I’m computer illiterate with a lot of things,” she said. “I don’t even know how to use all these fancy cellphones. If it’s not the most basic, I can’t use it.”

As someone with several underlying health issues, including diabetes and a heart condition, she worries about getting the vaccine and having an adverse reaction.

Ultimately, though, she said she’ll still be vaccinated because if she contracts COVID-19, “it’ll kill me.”

“But I’m an oddball that is severely allergic to everything ... so what is this shot going to do [to] me?” Agard said.

Both approved COVID-19 vaccines — one by Pfizer-BioNTech, the other by Moderna — show about a 95 percent efficacy rate, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The most commonly reported side effects, which typically lasted several days, were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever.

Velma Roy, 79, of Jaffrey said that while she’d prefer to schedule her appointment over the phone, she will do her best to navigate the online system.

“I’m hoping [the state] will instruct me,” she said.

Roy added that she “can’t wait” to get the vaccine, and though it’s been a slow process so far, doesn’t have any issues with the state’s plan.

“I just don’t like going out in public and not knowing who you’re coming in contact with and who might have it,” she said. “I’m getting tired of being alone.”

The phase of vaccination beginning Friday, Phase 1B, will also include residents under 65 who have two or more previously diagnosed serious medical conditions; residents and staff of facilities that care for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities; and corrections staff.

This phase will encompass about 300,000 people, according to the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services.

With a limited supply of vaccines, appointments may be booked weeks out. But anyone who wants an appointment will eventually get one, the health department says.

Gene Faltus, 67, said he believes in science and will “100 percent” be getting immunized for COVID-19.

“I have absolutely zero hesitation on getting it ... I’m willing to be awake at midnight,” he said with a laugh, if that’s what it would take to make an appointment.

And as a retired engineer, the Swanzey resident said he considers himself to be computer savvy and doesn’t expect to have problems registering.

As the state continues with its vaccine process in the coming months, though, Faltus said the biggest task ahead is getting people on board with immunization.

“Now that we have the vaccines,” he said, “the biggest task as we see it now is getting it in people’s arms.”

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or obelanger@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS. These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.




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