Senior citizens struggle to get access to the COVID-19 vaccine

SPOKANE, Wash. — When the COVID vaccine was first approved, it was the relief of a lifetime for many. Now that it’s here, though, it’s proving to be much more difficult to get than anyone anticipated.

87-year-old Lorraine Thorp has been cautious over the past year, but not paranoid. When she heard a vaccine was out at the end of last year, she told 4 News Now she was elated and was ready to sign up right away.

“I thought great, I am signing up,” Thorp recounted.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and this process turned out be a lot more taxing than she could have ever imagined. She tell us it’s been frustrating and depressing.

“Like I said, it’s been a long struggle, really,” said Thorp. “I don’t think it should be this difficult.”

She has a list of 10 different phone numbers she’s called trying to get an appointment. She’s not always able to get through, but when she does, they either do not have the vaccine, they’re not taking appointments or she’s put on a wait list — but 10 days later, still hasn’t received any calls.

Thorp admits the internet is a mystery to her, and many in her age group.

“Seniors do not have that ability to just go online,” said Thorp. “Some do — I will give them that credit, but I think that for the majority of seniors¬† it’s a mystery to them, and I know it is to me.”

Lori Throwbridge works at the Southside Community Center and acknowledges it’s even difficult to get connected to the people and places that should have answers.

“The Department of Health for Washington State, calls are hard to get through, if at all,” explained Throwbridge. “Everyone is having a hard time. Just when you think you can [get through], you hear of a place that has vaccines, you call, you go, and then they’re out.”

As for Thorp, she’s up to speed on the Spokane Arena vaccination site opening later this week and is hopeful her neighbor can help her register, when that time comes.

“They say you can’t get an appointment till Wednesday, and yet the Veteran’s Arena opens on Wednesday,” said Thorp, “So what time should you go online to find out?”

The hope for many is that the opening of the mass vaccination site will provide much more opportunity in the months ahead.

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