AARP Members Frustrated with Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Efforts, Survey Shows

COVID-19 vaccineImage by Torsten Simon

HARRISBURG, PA — Older adults are frustrated and angry with Pennsylvania’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to date, according to a survey of AARP members statewide.

Some 3,465 AARP members from across Pennsylvania responded to the informal survey, which showed that while 81 percent of respondents tried to secure a vaccine appointment, only 27 percent were successful so far.

“AARP members are telling us in great numbers and in no uncertain terms that they are very disappointed with Pennsylvania’s efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines,” said AARP Pennsylvania State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh. “Older adults should not be forced to negotiate a complicated and competitive vaccine appointment system that favors those with computer skills.”

Johnston-Walsh said the stories from AARP members demonstrate how the vaccine distribution plan is fragmented, hard to navigate, and is leaving behind many of the state’s most vulnerable and at risk populations.

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“This has been a very frustrating experience. I realize the number of people who are eligible for the vaccine far outweighs the supply available, however the inability to even find how/when/where you can receive the vaccine is beyond ridiculous,” said Terry Hartley of Montgomery County.

“It is like the Wild West, totally decentralized, and frustrating,” said Gilda Kramer of Montgomery County.

“We are left on our own to schedule vaccines. My wife checked 100s of times in the past week to no avail. There are NO appointments to be had,” said Stephen Meadow of Chester County.

“I am a high risk senior who is 70 who has cancer and diabetes and can’t get a Covid-19 vaccine anywhere in central PA. I am on the Internet daily for hours looking for an appointment and calling providers with no luck. I am very disgusted with how PA is handling distribution of the vaccine,” said Jonniene Urban of Dauphin County.

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Pennsylvania’s older adults are also confused and even frightened about potential health risks caused by delays in receiving a vaccine, said Johnston-Walsh. That’s because Pennsylvanians age 50 and older have accounted for 98 percent of all deaths from COVID-19.

“Every time I try and schedule an appointment I get a reply that no appointments are available at this time. I am 66 years old and have COPD and am very worried for my safety,” said Gregory Simons of Northampton County.

To make matters worse, the frustrations experienced by older adults trying to make vaccine appointments has caused many to simply give up hope, said Johnston-Walsh.

“My mom is 84 and has lung disease and multiple other problems and can’t get her in. I’m done with it. We will wait till spring or summer. It’s too stressful being on the computer day and night trying to get in somewhere,” said Deborah Newcamp of Butler County.

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“The voices of AARP members are coming through loud and clear–the delay 65+ Pennsylvanians are experiencing scheduling COVID-19 vaccines remains simply unacceptable,” said Johnston-Walsh. “Although demand for vaccine still outweighs supply, we’re counting on state officials to follow through on their recent pledge to do a better job ensuring that vaccines reach the arms of 65+ Pennsylvanians.”

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