COVID-19 vaccine sign up events help Topeka seniors register for vaccine without computers

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – For people lacking technology or the skills to use it, signing up for the COVID-19 vaccine can be difficult.

Patricia Brauer of Topeka has been facing these challenges for weeks. The 68-year-old is not only among the 65 and older age range, but she is also suffering from cancer.

“It’s just so frustrating. I mean, to make calls and, as my sister pointed out, if you’ve got cancer you really don’t need that stress of making all these calls and having this lack of success,” Brauer said.

Many communities in Kansas are asking this vulnerable population to use online sign-up forms to make an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine. However for this age group, having the resources to do so can be an obstacle.

“I don’t have a computer, I don’t have a smart phone, I don’t have any computer access or anything,” Brauer said.

For those struggling, help has arrived. The City of Topeka and the Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging teamed up to hold a vaccine registration pop-up event on Saturday. Eligible people simply drove up to the agency and a volunteer asked them questions to sign up.

“Folks that don’t have the technology or struggle with using it, or maybe don’t have a daughter or a niece or a family member that can help them with that, this has been a huge opportunity,” said Susan Harris, executive director at Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging. “We’ve gotten numerous calls of ‘How can I even get on the list if I don’t have access to the technology?'”

Several of the volunteers at the event are members of AmeriCorps, a government organization that is helping with the pandemic across the United States, including in Shawnee County.

“We are very happy to be able to help during this time, and we are very grateful that we get to be invited to help out and serve our community and serve our country with this,” said Abbey Poe, community relations representative for AmeriCorps.

“I’d like them to know thank you,” said Carol Kelpin, a Topeka resident who took advantage of the event. “I’m just thinking people are working really hard to get this to happen.”

After many frustrating days of waiting, Brauer is happy to finally be on the vaccine waiting list.

“Thank you to the City of Topeka for listening to the people who have been saying, ‘Hey, what about us?'” Brauer said.

These pop-up events will continue in March, with a smaller event occurring once a week and a larger event once a month, according to the City of Topeka.

The schedule for when the next sign up events will take place will be on the Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging’s Facebook page. For updates people can call the organization at (785) 235-1367, according to Harris. People wishing to sign up can also call the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library at (785) 580-4400, according to the City of Topeka.

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