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Norwich seniors receive help creating email accounts to register for COVID-19 vaccine online

New London

NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH)– Help is on the way for Norwich seniors trying to register for their COVID-19 vaccine.

Many who are in their 80s have had trouble signing up online, and the state has acknowledged long wait times for those trying to register by phone because of a high volume of calls.

Some seniors say getting an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine may be a lot more painful than the shot itself.

“Almost all of them don’t have an email address,” said Mike Wolak, the director of the Rose City Senior Center.

He says having an email address can make things a lot easier.

Mary & Lincoln Hoffa recently talked to News 8 at a vaccination clinic at Yale-New Haven Health’s New London site.

“My son my youngest one, Todd, he made the appointment and everything just to make sure we came,” said Mary Hoffa.

But not everyone has a computer savvy son to help them out, which is why the senior center, Norwich Human Services, and Norwich Public Schools have teamed up to help seniors get registered.

“If they don’t have an email set up, we’re starting the process of setting up an email for them,” said Wolak.

From there they walk them through the VAMS registration process and if they don’t have a computer they do it for them.

“That worker is going to have to monitor it right through their second vaccination as far as setting them up for an appointment and then setting them up for their second appointment,” said Wolak.

The Uncas Health District sets up clinics about twice a week at the Rose City Senior Center.

The state’s COVID vaccination portal can connect people to clinics like that around the state but signing up can be complicated.

“You can only register one person through one email address,” said Wolak. “So if it’s a husband and wife and they’re both 80 years old, they can only register one of these people.”

They have to create another email address for the second person. If they decide to register by phone instead…

“Maybe it’s gotten a little better but people were waiting up to 3 hours on the phone,” added Wolak.

If they opt for a call back it could be days later, which is why Norwich is helping seniors register online.

“By the end of the conversation he was almost in tears telling me that this could have saved his life,” said Wolak. “So it’s pretty touching.”

Hard but rewarding work. 

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