New Vaccination, Booster Help for Techo-timid Seniors in Pennsylvania

VaccinationImage by Angelo Esslinger
Vaccination rates vary widely by county; new help for seniors in Pennsylvania from Generations on Line

PHILADELPHIA, PA — The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has funded Generations on Line to enable more citizens, especially seniors, to find and schedule Covid-19 vaccinations and boosters. The initiative underscores the state’s effort to address the disproportionate health burden of COVID-19 among its residents who live in rural or other areas where health services are limited.

Two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, the task of reaching everyone who desires the vaccine remains a public health challenge. Nationally, 72% of all U.S. citizens over the age of 12 have received one or two vaccine doses. Among the population 65 years and older, the percentage rises to 88%. Similarly in Pennsylvania, 74% of residents 12 years and older have been “fully vaccinated (not including a booster shot), while 92% of those over 65 are fully vaccinated.

While the percentage coverage for seniors is high, the overall numbers hide significant differences at the county level. In Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, the fully vaccinated rate (among all age groups) is 65%, but it varies from 41% in Bradford County to 76% in Montour County.

Philadelphia-based Generations on Line is a national nonprofit dedicated to helping seniors and others to use and benefit from Internet technology to enhance communication and access resources. It has developed a series of free web-based tutorials and apps aimed at the non-tech-savvy population, including basic tablet and smartphone fundamentals, job hunting and accessing telemedicine portals.

For Pennsylvania, GoL has created a tutorial to help people find and register for Covid vaccinations. “The easiest way to find vaccine resources is via the Internet,” said Tobey Dichter, founder and chief executive of GoL, “but there still are far too many people who are missing out because they either don’t have Internet literacy skills or are just plain intimidated.

“The tutorial (https://golhelp.org/vaccine) guides a novice user step-by-step through the basics on a tablet or phone, to help them use the vaccines.gov website to find a convenient vaccination location, and learn how to complete required forms. “Tasks that seem intuitive to Internet users can be utterly confusing to someone unfamiliar with technology or completing forms online,” Ms. Dichter said. Outreach for this project was financed, by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development.

The tutorial walks a novice through the steps with instructions and practice in a safe place and then brings them to the actual site with their newfound skills.

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