Expert: Older People Are Being 'Left Behind' Due to Online Vaccination Registration Flaw


As multiple states mobilize their resources in an effort to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as efficiently as possible, complex and rigorous online registration sites reportedly are making the process much more difficult for senior citizens to navigate.

According to one expert, senior citizens have been “left behind” when it comes to vaccine distribution because of poor computer design.

Speaking with The Western Journal via email, professor Sergio Sayago of Universitat de Lleida in Spain said the online registration process being used by many health departments across the U.S. has frustrated many senior citizens seeking to be vaccinated.

A computer scientist, Sayago holds two degrees in software engineering and a doctorate in computer science and human computer interaction.

When asked what sorts of “problems” senior citizens encounter when attempting to use digital technology, Sayago said that “older people do not have ‘problems.’ The problem is ours.”

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“When we, typically young and middle-aged adults (designers, programmers…), set out to design a new technology – in this case, an online vaccination finder, this technology is more often than not designed ‘for people like us’, i.e., young and middle-aged people who are technologically literate,” he told The Western Journal via email.

“Consequently, older people, and other potential groups of people (for example, people with disabilities) are left behind.”

Sayago offered a solution.

Are COVID-19 vaccine registration websites frustrating to use?

“The problem can be solved by putting people first, from considering that the users are not like you and including older adults in the design process, to checking online resources and current research on designing technologies for older people and other segments of the population,” he told The Western Journal.

“One-size is unlikely to fit all, but one-size should fit as many as possible.”

Multiple reports indicate older Americans across the country, including those in Arizona, New York, Florida and the District of Columbia, have been confused by their states’ online registration systems.

A Dec. 31 report from the Tampa Bay Times revealed numerous seniors from across Florida had found its vaccine rollout to be “confusing.”

On Jan. 10, New York Comptroller Scott M. Stringer criticized the city’s “complex, burdensome, and buggy” online sign-up process.

According to Stringer, this includes a “multi-step verification process,” a “six-step process to set up an appointment” and as many as “51 questions or fields” to complete along the way “in addition to uploading images of your insurance card.”

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On Thursday, WJLA-TV reported multiple seniors in the District of Columbia had called in to voice their frustrations with the district’s website for vaccination registration.

Additionally, in an interview with CNBC, a Phoenix resident explained why she was having trouble navigating online vaccination registration.

“It would be impossible for anyone my age to try and do it without help,” she said.

“We just aren’t computer savvy.”

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Michael wrote for a number of entertainment news outlets before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter. He now manages the writing and reporting teams, overseeing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Michael Austin graduated from Iowa State University in 2019. During his time in college, Michael volunteered as a social media influencer for both PragerU and Live Action. After graduation, he went on to work as a freelance journalist for various entertainment news sites before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter.

Since then, Michael has been promoted to the role of Manager of Writing and Reporting. His responsibilities now include managing and directing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Ames, Iowa
Iowa State University
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