The Vaccine Outreach Program provides specialized assistance to seniors ages 60 and over and, if necessary, their caregivers as well.
BY KARIN DAVIS-THOMPSON, Staff Writer
PINELLAS COUNTY — A program organized by the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco – Pinellas (AAAPP) will now ensure seniors and caregivers have an easier road to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Vaccine Outreach Program provides specialized assistance to seniors ages 60 and over and if necessary, their caregivers as well. Organizers said many times that without the proper respite assistance, caregivers don’t have the support they need to leave their loved ones to visit the pharmacy or doctor’s office for their shot.
Additionally, seniors may not have the help they need. In some cases, they are homebound, and in other instances, hurdles such as transportation issues may make it more challenging to get vaccinated. They said it is essential to provide help for those who want the vaccine but face barriers that make it difficult to obtain.
“Seniors in our community, and those who care for them, continue to be at most risk of getting covid and being hospitalized,” said Ann Marie Winter, executive director of the AAAPP. The Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas encourages all seniors to get vaccinated and boosted.”
AAAPP’s program is an extension of the state’s We Will Meet You at Home campaign sponsored by the Department of Elder Affairs. The department saw a need, realizing that not all seniors would have the ability to leave home to get vaccinated and that those individuals deserved the opportunity to be vaccinated if they chose like anyone else.
“Now more than ever, seniors and their caregivers need to get vaccinated,” Winter said. “We are here to help not only answer any questions they may have but also make appointments for both doses, provide transportation and help those who are homebound get the vaccines brought to them.”
Along with providing respite for caregivers and transportation for seniors who need it, the initiative includes reminder calls for second vaccine appointments and, in some cases, other individualized assistance as needed to ensure the participant can receive the vaccine.
More than 2,500 clients have received assistance from the program, about 1,100 have been provided resources and services by phone, and more than 250 clients have received help scheduling their vaccine appointment.
The AAAPP is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide assistance in various forms for seniors and individuals with disabilities in Pasco and Pinellas counties. The organization has been in service to those communities since 1974.
Along with the Vaccine Outreach Program, the AAAPP group provides access to resource information for seniors and caregivers, including affordable food and nutrition options, Medicare enrollment, health and wellness resources, and community engagement activities.
“As an agency in general, we’re always looking for opportunities to connect with seniors, caregivers, and individuals with disabilities,” Winter said. “We welcome opportunities to engage with seniors at [places like] churches, community events, and senior living facilities.”
The Vaccine Outreach Program is available until Sept. 30
For more information on the Vaccine Outreach Program or any other services provided by AAAPP, visit their website at www.agingcarefl.org or call 1-800-963-5337.