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Seniors struggle with online vaccine system

Council did motion for the Laredo Vaccination Committee to look into a legal way to improve the system so local seniors can have a chance to get the vaccine.
Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 9:32 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Not too long ago the Laredo Health Department set up an online COVID vaccine appointment portal; some had luck logging in, others not so much.

But a certain age group seems to be the one struggling the most to get through.

Ninety-five year old Gloria Gujardo is eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

With many vaccine providers out of stock, she was excited to hear the Laredo Health Department would be offering appointments to get it, but she hit a roadblock.

“I don’t have internet, I don’t even have a cellphone. I laughingly say I am in the dark ages. I have a land line and that is what I use.”

Without access to the world wide web, Gloria says all she can do is call the department for a chance to get an appointment.

“Thirty-three times I called and I never got through. Then I called 311 ten times, I called the mayor 7 times. I have it all right here.”

Gloria says she has yet to get an answer, and she’s not the only one. Council member Doctor Marte Martinez says many seniors are struggling with the city’s online vaccine appointment system.

“I have 81-year-olds calling me that they have been in line forever. Then I have 40-year-olds with mild obesity that are vaccinated.”

Doctor Martinez believes only offering appointments online and on the phone is unfair and more options need to offered.

“It’s obvious that the generations in their 50′s with co morbidities, 40′s or 30′s with diabetes or high blood pressure will be able to get online and then the older generation is really struggling to get these doses,” said Doctor Martinez.

He asked if the health department could possibly allow or prioritize the oldest among those who currently qualify to get the vaccine first, but it was said the state does not allow prioritizing within priority groups.

“If you think to have one line for everyone to compete in a frenzy is system- we are mistaken. I know it’s better than what we had but i’m saying can we set up two appointment systems, three appointment systems.”

After some back and forth, council did motion for the Laredo Vaccination Committee to look into a legal way to improve the system so people like Gloria and others who qualify get a chance to get it.

The city does say its software shows half of the people obtaining appointments through the online portal are 65 and older.

Regarding individuals who are homebound, Chief Guillermo Heard says they are working with Laredo College and TAMIU nurses to go into neighborhoods and vaccinate.

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