Addressing the Vaccine Concerns of Older Adults

DOH Secretary Shah and WA Attorney General Ferguson offer COVID-19 advice in a recent AARP Tele-townhall.

As our state’s vaccine supply increases, we are getting much closer to returning to some sense of normalcy. But many people, especially older adults, face challenges getting the vaccine.

We partnered with AARP Washington for a tele-townhall event to address vaccine questions and concerns of older adults. Washington’s AARP Director Doug Shadel led the discussion with DOH Secretary Umair Shah and Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

More than 6,000 Washingtonians listened in and many had questions during the event held on March 9, 2021. Here are a few highlights of the discussion.

Vaccine Fraud:

One of the most pressing concerns for older adults in Washington is pandemic-related fraud and identity theft. The Attorney General’s Office has been busy tackling these challenges as they arise.

It can be hard to discern whether a text or call is from a scammer. Attorney General Ferguson said cost is a telltale sign. “You do not, and frankly cannot, pay for the vaccine.” Any offer to give a COVID-19 vaccine for money is probably fraud.

Getting the Vaccine:

One of the main challenges with the vaccine rollout is balancing supply and demand. If there’s not enough vaccine available, people can’t get vaccinated, even when they’re eligible.

Dr. Shah describes this as a “three-legged stool.” Vaccine supply, logistics, and demand all factor into the process. He assures older adults that our supplies will continue to increase.

Appointments:

Some callers were concerned that they were not contacted to schedule a vaccine appointment.

That’s one reason DOH created tools like Phase Finder and the hotline (1–800–525–0127). They can help you confirm if you’re eligible for the vaccine and can even help you find a location to get it. With Phase Finder, you can also sign up to be contacted once you’re eligible to get the vaccine.

Once you’re eligible (everyone over 65 is eligible in Washington), it’s very important to schedule your appointment — and make sure you keep it!

“It’s critical that we do everything possible so everyone gets vaccinated,” said Dr. Shah. “If you are offered an opportunity to get the vaccine, don’t hesitate — vaccinate!”

Once Vaccinated:

Once you’re vaccinated, don’t forget that we’re still in a pandemic. You can still carry the virus, even after you’ve been vaccinated! Please remember that many others have not been vaccinated yet. Dr. Shah says vaccinated people should continue wearing masks and practicing physical distancing when in public. The CDC provides post-vaccination guidance here.

Listen:

For more information, you can listen to the entire AARP townhall event here.

More information

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.

See what vaccine phase we are in now at CovidVaccineWA.org. To find out if it’s your turn, visit FindYourPhaseWA.org and our timeline of vaccine phases. Check the vaccine locator map for a list of places where you can get the vaccine, which is provided at no cost.

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.

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