Help for homebound seniors as Pa. COVID vaccine eligibility expands

Vaccinate PA

Seniors without computers and their children with busy work schedules is a combination that has left many people in phase 1A struggling to get vaccine appointments.

“Every time I go into the drug stores or any place and ask if I can get an appointment, they say, get it on a computer. Well I don’t have one,” said Martha Pritchard of Hanover, York County.

So Pritchard’s daughter, Marty Feighner, has been helping her for over a month.

“I put her in for all kinds of places, UPMC, everything, and just no success,” Feighner said.

But that all changed Tuesday afternoon. Their perseverance paid off.

“I was on the phone for about an hour and I finally did get someone to get me an appointment at York at the Rite Aid. So it took a while but I got it,” Pritchard said.

Pennsylvanians who don’t have internet access can call the state health department at 1-877-724-3258 for help finding a vaccine provider. Older Pennsylvanians can also contact their area agency on aging for appointment help as well. In addition, the state has another program.

“Individuals aged 21 or older that are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and individuals who are 21 years of age or older and eligible for Medicaid because they need a level of care provided by a nursing facility,” said Jamie Buchenauer, Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary for Long-term Living.

350,000 Pennsylvanians meet those qualifications in Pennsylvania. They’re being helped through the state and Pennsylvania’s Community HealthChoices (CHC) managed care organizations (MCOs) through phone calls about available appointments and transportation. We’re told the outlook is promising and more help should be available soon for homebound seniors.

“There’s a lot more of availability so it’s making it easier to get individuals when they’re interested, and when we connect with them into those vaccine appointments,” said Brendan Harris, Vice President, UPMC Community HealthChoices.

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