In Chinatown, it’s Elders Lost in Vaccination

Posted on: January 25th, 2021 at 5:02 am by

Photo: Karlin Chan

As the nation’s coronavirus death toll exceeds 400,000, news of mass vaccination sites opening across New York city is certainly welcome. However, securing an appointment is proving a daunting task.

The mayor previously stressed equity in treatment for vaccination, which is rolled out in phases. Yet, with the mandate that all appointments require online registration, problems are inevitable. Many registrants have already encountered site crashes and difficulty in navigation.

On my daily stroll around Chinatown last week, I was approached on multiple occasions by seniors asking where to enroll for a vaccine. I realized, after explaining that appointments are only available online, that these folks, among others, had no computer access, technical savvy, or language skills necessary to navigate the registration process.  Local senior centers do provide such resources, but remain closed due to the ongoing ban on indoor gatherings, leaving many scrambling for help.

In a city of immigrants, it would appear the plan to vaccinate everyone doesn’t apply to those with a language barrier or without the proper technical knowhow. I would also question why those receiving their first shot are not automatically given an appointment for their second and instead requiring them to register online.  Though those with mobility issues are offered free transportation to their appointments but signing up for a ride presents the same issues.

So, while the mayor and others in elected office tout “equity,” it’s apparently opposite on the ground. It’s like dangling candy in front of a kid.

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