NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Frustration is mounting among some seniors who are trying to make their appointment to get their COVID-19 vaccine. But now, a program recently launched in New Haven County aims to make that process much easier. It’s called the “Vaccine Buddy Program.”
The process to sign up for a vaccine is a little complicated. It involves an email address and signing up online or by phone, plus, knowing when you are eligible to sign up.
“Instead of getting frustrated with it, we decided to do something,” said Jane Ferrall, Executive Director of Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven. “A lot of systems that have been set up are difficult for them to navigate, if not impossible.”
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The Buddy Program was created by the Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven and the Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut.
Volunteers are assigned to work with seniors directly who live in New Haven County, one-on-one, to make sure they’re registered to get their shots and also have a ride to the vaccination site.
Under the state’s vaccine distribution plan, only people who are 75 and older are currently eligible to schedule an appointment. Those 65-74 will be able to start signing up in early February, Governor Ned Lamont said in a recent press conference.
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“It’s gratifying for those of us who work with people to be able to, in such a short timeline, to get a program, get it up and running, and make a difference,” said Beverly Kidder, vice president of the Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut. “I think it will be appreciated and needed by many.”
They have dozens of “buddies” already, but more help is needed.
“When we first started talking, she was very hesitant,” explained Christian Tallo, a volunteer who’s been assigned one of the seniors. “She didn’t know what to do, she didn’t know how to get started, she didn’t even have an email account. It was all new and foreign for her.”
He went on to say, “telling her [on Thursday] she had an appointment, you could tell there was a big smile on her face.
Tallo is encouraging others to do their part, as well.
“I believe if you need it or you want to join to help, I think you should and the opportunity is there,” said Tallo.
The program is for seniors in New Haven County, which is why they’re hoping it will spread and take off across Connecticut.
“It would be great if other agencies or community groups heard about it and said, ‘that’s a great idea! Let’s do that,'” said Ferrall.
If you’re interested in volunteering, you can call the Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven at (203) 230-8994 or visit their website to fill out a form at: http://www.carenewhaven.org/