Updated: February 12, 2021 09:05 AM
Created: February 11, 2021 07:18 PM
Figuring out how to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine has been confusing, frustrating and downright discouraging for countless seniors, including here in the Northland.
“We’ve gotten a lot of calls about: ‘How do I get this vaccine?’ Jenny Van Sickle, manager of the Lew Martin Senior Center in Superior said.
According to Van Sickle, the center has received so many calls that they have added information to their Facebook page and their voice mail system to try and help seniors navigate the process.
“There was a realistic expectation that yes, it would be a gradual rollout and yes, there would be delays here and there, but people are just really anxious to get vaccinated to feel safe,” Van Sickle said.
Van Sickle believes that a number of seniors are lacking the information they need to sign up for the vaccine, which she believes could be due to a digital divide. Therefore, she and others at the center have been helping to bridge that gap the best they can by providing people the latest information.
“We have tried to follow all the websites and all the Facebook accounts and stay up to date as much as possible,” Van Sickle said.
Van sickle acknowledges that there is a shortage of the vaccine itself, but hopes to see more seniors get their shots, so they can get back to the lives they've missed so much.
“Like anybody else, they miss their friends, they miss their family,” Van Sickle said. “We’ve had grandparents call and talk about being blessed with a grandkid that is no longer an infant. You know, people are missing a lot.”
In addition to providing technical help, Van Sickle says she's been checking in on seniors to provide some emotional support. She recommends others check in on their elderly loved ones during this difficult time as well.
“I would just encourage folks to check in with their family members even if they think they are doing okay and just try to have a conversation about the type of information they are getting to make sure that the information they are getting is accurate,” Van Sickle said.
While there is a ton of information out there about vaccinations for seniors, much of it varies based on the number of vaccines the state receives per week.
Here is more information for seniors looking to sign up for the vaccine in the Northland:
In St. Louis County, seniors 65 and older can sign up for online patient portals at both Essentia Health and St. Luke's to be randomly selected for an appointment depending on when vaccines are available.
The DECC is also working to vaccinate seniors 65 and older in St. Louis County. Their efforts began this past week and will continue once they receive more vaccines from the state.
In Douglas County, seniors 65 and older are encouraged to call the Douglas County COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 715-395-7336 to be placed on a waiting list for an appointment.
Across the Northland, seniors 65 and older will also have the opportunity to be vaccinated at a number of Walmarts, including: Baxter, Bemidji, Cloquet, Grand Rapids, Hermantown, Hibbing, Mountain Iron, and Pine City.
The Sam's Club in Hermantown will also administer the vaccine and people do not need to be Sam's Clubs members to sign up for an appointment.