As the waiting game for vaccines continues, many elderly members of the community feel they are being left behind. Some people in their 90s are just now being scheduled for their first COVID-19 vaccine.
Erie resident Jackie Saur says her 92-year old mother, who lives at Niagara Village Retirement Community was not able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine until this week. Saur says staff from the facility continuously advocated for their residents, but they still had a difficult time scheduling and receiving vaccines.
“They were having such a hard time getting it. I guess, initially, what was promised to them never came through.” Saur said.
Saur says she took matters into her own hands trying to set up an appointment for her mother.
“I mean, I went on every website I could possibly think of. I called the doctor’s office and they sent me to a hotline that was just a recorded message at the time. You know, there was no link and there was no other way to try to get an appointment.” Saur said.
Saur’s mother Theresa Cousins was able to receive her first dose of the vaccine, and now 200 vaccines have been allocated for Niagara Village through UPMC, but the vaccines won’t be coming to the facility.
“Now, they are not going to have it in house, so a lot of these people don’t have ways to get there. They’re trying to use different vans and stagger appointments so that they can get them in.” Saur said.
The executive director of the Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association says 70% of personal care and assisted living facilities have had their first dose. She says her new concern is after the three clinics are complete at these facilities, elderly members of the community could have to travel to distribution sites to get their vaccines.
“We’ve began to see the Giant Eagles and different pharmacies are now getting those, but it’s our concern that the long term care pharmacies will be able to come to the community and give those vaccines, rather than our residents having to go out to get them.” said Margie Zelenak.
Over 100,000 vaccines had been administered through the federal pharmacy program to assisted living facilities, protecting the most vulnerable.