SWIRCA assisting elderly to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine

SWIRCA assisting elderly to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Indiana State Department of Health announced Wednesday that Hoosiers over the age of 70 are now eligible to get a coronavirus vaccine. A local organization is helping this population with the process.

Rhonda Zuber, president of the Southwestern Indiana Regional Council on Aging (SWIRCA), tells 14 News that thousands of phone calls have gone out and came in since Friday.

Many seniors have a lot of questions regarding the vaccine, and SWIRCA is trying to steer them in the right direction.

[READ MORE: Hoosiers 70+ signing up for COVID vaccine]

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, more than 66,000 Hoosiers 70 years and older have signed up to get a COVID vaccine so far. This eligibility was expanded Wednesday.

“I know the ones I have reached out to has been overwhelming for the vaccine,” Zuber recalled. “So, they’re very receptive.”

This comes less than one week after the state opened registration to Hoosiers over 80 years old. Leaders with SWIRCA, which is an Evansville senior citizen center, say its volunteers and staff have made more than 3,000 phone calls in recent days to make sure the elderly are aware of the Governor’s announcement and try to answer some questions, including booking vaccination appointments.

“I was explaining to her that she needed to go online to get registered and she said: ‘Honey, I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” Zuber explained by example. “And so, I had to go through the process of explaining how to get registered and she didn’t. I said, are you interested in getting signed up? She said yes. So, I went ahead and registered her and got her taken care of. But, a lot of them do not have access to computers. They’re not able to get out to libraries to access different computers.”

This step of serving Hoosiers 70 years and older will account for 12% of the state’s population, but 78% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. Officials say the goal of the state’s vaccination plan is to lower the number of deaths and hospitalizations.

“If you can’t get in, don’t give up,” Zuber added. “So, keep trying. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.”

The official number to call for help is 2-1-1.

SWIRCA is helping seniors with transportation to those shots.

As the state opens more age groups, the organization needs volunteers with computers skills to help with the phones. For those who are interested, please call 812-464-7800.

State health officials say as Indiana continues to move through its vaccination phases, Hoosiers can expect to get a postcard in the mail with all of the registration information. They say the state will move into its next phase as soon as more vaccines arrive.

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