GREENFIELD — Assistance is now available for Greenfield residents who are eligible to get a Covid-19 vaccine but unable to access or complete the online process to register.
The city has recently started a Vaccination Assistance Program.
“Right now everything is online, and for a lot of people here in town it might be difficult for them to have access or even know how to use the technology to get the vaccine,” said Jovanna Acevedo, the vaccination coordinator with the new program.
Families can contact the program on behalf of one of their relatives, such as their parents or grandparents, to refer them to the program. At that point, Acevedo can work with the senior citizen over the phone or in person to help complete the registration process.
For some residents, such as those in senior homes, it means going to them in person to get their information in order to complete the appointment registration. If someone is contacted who isn’t eligible, their information, such as age, can be taken down so they can be contacted when they do meet eligibility criteria.
“We’re also trying to do outreach through social media and any form of communication we can get at the moment,” Acevedo said. “This is for Greenfield residents at the moment, so I’ll be working with the Greenfield residents, but other towns do have programs similar to this.”
The program is currently bilingual in Spanish and English, but Acevedo said the intent is to get support for Triqui in time for the program to help a larger portion of the population, especially farmworkers.
Acevedo said the largest barrier is access to the internet, with the current registration program being run online rather than over the phone or in person. She said many seniors don’t have cell phones and rely on house numbers, in addition to their lack of familiarity with technology.
Another barrier has been the need to have a particular browser, Chrome, to complete the application form, despite any browser being able to access the registration site.
Many of the seniors encountered don’t have an email address, Acevedo said, which is required for the process, so the program works with seniors to get them set up with one in order to confirm, keep track of and get reminders for their appointment.
Greenfield’s assistance program is only able to work with the publicly available pool of appointments, so Acevedo said getting an appointment scheduled can be tricky due to availability.
“Since appointments do come and go, we need to be looking daily or hourly to see when there’s appointments available and if the person is available or has transportation,” Acevedo said.
Even with all those hurdles to overcome, Acevedo noted many seniors in Greenfield don’t have transportation for long trips to other cities, oftentimes needing rides from others.
“We don’t currently have direct transportation from Greenfield to any of the places that are administering the vaccine,” Acevedo said. “We’re still looking for options and seeing if MST can help out.”
Another aim for the program would be to have a way to arrange for transportation, she said.