Senior citizens, one of the most at-risk populations for COVID-19, are reportedly having problems accessing the vaccine due to overly complex and buggy online registration processes.
According to New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, this is especially the case when it comes to the vaccination sign-up process on the New York City Department of Health’s website.
On Sunday, Stringer criticized the “complex, burdensome, and buggy” sign up procedure which, according to him, 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.”
The @nycHealthy site for signing up for a COVID vaccination is complex, burdensome, and buggy.
It will present an obstacle for too many people—particularly seniors—trying to sign up. This is a major problem.
— Scott M. Stringer (@NYCComptroller) January 11, 2021
“The @nycHealthy site for signing up for a COVID vaccination is complex, burdensome, and buggy. It will present an obstacle for too many people — particularly seniors — trying to sign up. This is a major problem,” Stringer wrote.
“All of this will be particularly challenging for populations that struggle with digital literacy and digital access — who have been hit hardest by this pandemic and who need the vaccine most.”
Stringer’s correct — senior citizens face a plethora of barriers when attempting to adapt to new technologies. A 2014 Pew Research Center study found that a number of mental and physical factors working together make adaptation to new technologies difficult for many seniors.
The study also found that as many as 41 percent of seniors do not use the internet at all.
During a news briefing on Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed Stringer’s criticisms of the Department of Health site’s usability, claiming that the city is working on an “outreach effort” for seniors looking to receive the vaccine.
“We absolutely want the simplest possible system,” de Blasio said, according to a transcript of the event. “Folks who are going through a lot, we want them to have as easy an experience as possible making their appointments. That said, there’s really important information that is required by law, and we’ve got to get that right up front. So that’s the balance point here.”
“As the city gets customer feedback, we reach out to the various providers who manage their scheduling and appointments tools and we give them that feedback and ask for them to make the necessary or recommended updates to their sites,” Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Commissioner Jessica Tisch added at the same briefing.
When it comes to scheduling COVID vaccination appointments, New Yorkers aren’t alone in their confusion.
Following the District of Columbia’s announcement that seniors could begin signing up for shots on Monday, multiple seniors contacted WJLA-TV to voice their frustrations over the website for vaccination registration.
A Dec. 31 report from the Tampa Bay Times revealed that many citizens across the state of Florida, which has the second oldest population among all U.S. states, have found their state’s vaccine rollout “confusing” as well.
“It would be impossible for anyone my age to try and do it without help,” one Phoenix, Arizona, resident told CNBC regarding online vaccination registration.
“We just aren’t computer savvy.”
As more states begin to offer vaccinations to the elderly community, health departments across the country cannot delay in addressing this pressing issue to protect our most vulnerable.
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