Elderly struggle with access to COVID-19 vaccine appointments

Elderly struggle with access to COVID-19 vaccine appointments

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - On Feb. 2, Singing River Health System administered 1,000 first and 1,000 second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total number of shots administered to just under 17,000.

Still, there are many elderly people that have struggled to schedule an appointment for their first dose.

74-year-old Gulfport resident Jessie Fitzgerald preaches faith and resiliency to her family, but slowly Fitzgerald is starting to lose hope that she will one day receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’ve given up and I say just keep the faith,” Fitzgerald said. “Keep the faith and try to stay healthy.”

On Feb. 9, Fitzgerald will celebrate her husband’s 89th birthday, and the one gift she seeks is the COVID-19 vaccine, but time and time again, Fitzgerald is unable to find an available appointment.

“I’ve called the phone lines and they said ‘well go here, go there, call here, call there,” Fitzgerald said. “I have done that and the places that I’ve called say no we don’t have it or call us back next week.”

Appointments fill up so quickly that many elderly people are still in need of the vaccine. Singing River Health System CEO Lee Bond said the effects of COVID-19 are much more severe in the elderly population.

“They’re more at risk than, say, a 35-year-old person, and so clearly it’s better to try and focus on them,” Bond said. ‘If we ask ourselves what’s the goal? If our goal is to save lives in this vaccination process, focusing on those people that are the most at risk is a very good thing to do.”

As more vaccines continue to roll out, Fitzgerald said she will keep her faith and practice, safe, healthy habits.

“I wear two masks, I wear the gloves, and then when I get home I use the Lysol. I use everything that you can name,” Fitzgerald said. “I wash my clothes. I make sure that I sanitize myself.”

Thankfully, Fitzgerald was eventually able to schedule her appointment and received her first dose on Tuesday.

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