AS I SEE IT
By Neal A. Shipman
As more and more vaccine for COVID-19 is becoming available in McKenzie County, it has become crystal clear that no one seems to know how they can sign up to receive a shot or even when a vaccination clinic is being planned. And that problem is mostly affecting the county’s elderly population who are in the highest category to receive the vaccination.
So why aren’t McKenzie County elderly residents who are eligible to receive the vaccine signing up for the vaccination clinics? The answer is simple. They don’t know when clinics are being held. Nor do they know how to sign up.
Right now, the preferred method by which healthcare facilities notify individuals that they have an upcoming vaccination clinic is by posting the information on a Facebook page or through other social media platforms. And guess what? Most elderly people are not big users of social media to get their news so they never know that they can get a shot.
And should the elderly find out that they can get a shot, their next big hurdle is using a computer, which again is the preferred method, to sign up. Again, most elderly people are not computer literate and for them to sit down and try to navigate to a website to complete their registration is a daunting challenge.
The healthcare facilities understand they have an issue getting the elderly population vaccinated. Which is why the Upper Missouri District Health Unit reached out to the McKenzie County Farmer to help spread the word on the upcoming Feb. 18 vaccination clinic. They know that our county’s elderly population reads the newspaper and they were not getting the response they wanted from social media or other online platforms. We, of course, were happy to help them put out the word on the next vaccination clinic.
But as we put together this week’s front page story by visiting with the Upper Missouri District Health Unit staff as well as several elderly residents of the county, it became clear that the entire process of getting everyone who wants a vaccination registered and vaccinated is going to be a much bigger challenge than was imagined.
Obviously right now there is not enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone who wants to receive a shot. But surely the state or individual healthcare systems can create a system where people of any age can simply sign up by computer or telephone. And then when a dose is available, they can use that list to notify people as to where and when they can receive their vaccination.
If the goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible in the quickest time frame possible, the current system isn’t working.