NY 1: Advocates Help Seniors Cross Digital Divide to Access Vaccine

This community space at the Soundview Houses transformed into a pop-up vaccination hub, bringing sought after doses to public housing tenants, in particular older New Yorkers.


What You Need To Know

  • Advocacy groups like Bronx Rising Initiative are helping to connect seniors to vaccines through pop-up hubs and home service

  • The city has expanded walk-in service for the elderly across the city with 26 sites where seniors and a companion can get vaccinated without an appointment

  • According to the NYC Department of the Aging "more than 750,000 older adults over 65 have been vaccinated with at least one dose"

"I'd be walking around and going to stores and because I have heart problems and all that so a lot of stuff can affect me" said Antoinette Simmons. Simmons is among those hoping to limit their risk of getting COVID-19 by taking advantage of the vaccine drive organized by Bronx Rising Initiative, an organization that has noticed how the vaccine scheduling system has put seniors at a disadvantage at a moment when eligibility has been expanded to all adults. "The digital divide has been a huge issue in the Bronx,” said Tomas Ramos. “A lot of our elders don't know how to navigate the internet, don't have access to the internet, so it makes it that much harder to make an appointment online." Ramos says for many seniors living at or below the poverty level, a language barrier can present another obstacle. It’s another reason his group brings the vaccines to where he says it's needed most. "It's very costly to vaccinate our community when a lot of our community is relying on medicare and medicaid” said Ramos. "I was going to make an appointment but I changed my mind, and then when I heard about coming down here to Claremont I just came and it's not too bad" said Simmons. The city is also taking steps to make it easier for seniors by expanding walk-in centers where New Yorkers over the age of 75 and a companion can get a shot without an appointment. There are now 26 sites across the city. A spokesperson from the Department of Aging says the agency has been tapping into its network of providers to reach seniors who don't have internet access via phone, assist with scheduling and transportation.


As of Friday more than 750,000 older adults over 65 have been vaccinated with at least one dose, according to Dina Montes, director of press and public information. Officials said the city will continue looking for opportunities to connect older new yorkers with the vaccines. Bronx Rising Initiative is also launching an effort next week to bring vaccines to more home bound seniors as well.


BY LORI CHUNG


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