Elderly Can’t Get COVID-19 Vaccine

(WSVN) - As the vaccine rollout continues to move slowly, many elderly South Floridians say they have been forgotten, but are they legally entitled to the COVID vaccine? They have been asking that question to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

If you spend five minutes with 95-year-old Georgia Rogers, her personality will have you smiling. Talking about her 29 family members will leave her beaming.

Georgia Rogers: “Five children, 10 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and three more on the way. I am proud. I’m proud of my family.”

A large family that always gathered to celebrate every birthday and holiday … until you know what.

Georgia Rogers: “We tried to do that for my 95th, but unfortunately, this virus stopped it all.”

Since the coronavirus hit, the family has been careful to protect Georgia from COVID. No parties, just Zoom gatherings.

That’s bothered her.

Georgia Rogers: “My blood pressure was sky-high because I was so upset that we could not all get together.”

When the vaccine was released, Georgia was excited.

Georgia Rogers: “I would like to live a lot longer than now, and the vaccine, I feel, should help me.”

Her son and other family members tried to get the vaccine for her.

Georgia Rogers: “On the computer, which crashes, on the phone, which you cannot get through. It’s impossible.”

If you go online to the Florida Department of Health, you can see: all the appointments in Dade and Broward are booked.

Georgia Rogers: “First of all, the big problem is, they tell you, ‘Make a reservation.’ How in Sam Hill are you going to make a reservation?”

Georgia says it’s also clear that with the long wait for an appointment, and the long wait in line if you get it, the state doesn’t have a plan for elderly people like her.

Georgia Rogers: “We can’t stand in line for hours, even with a walker. How can you be online for four or five hours?”

Georgia says the elderly who are independent, living alone, need the state to set up a definite time for an appointment or vaccinate them at home, since they’ve done it for others already.

Georgia Rogers: “They took care of the people in assisted living, but they seem to have forgotten about us. We live alone. What are we supposed to do?”

The most vulnerable, like Georgia, are feeling forgotten, frustrated, while waiting for the State of Florida to help them.

Georgia Rogers: “It has to be easier for us to get it where it’s not so stressful.”

Well, legally, if you are elderly, does the state have to give you a firm appointment or come to you home to give you a shot? Howard?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Just because you are elderly does not legally entitle you to a special accommodation. However, if your immune system is compromised, if you have a lack of mobility, or you have any disability, then the government has to attempt to get you the vaccine. Meaning, in Georgia’s case, they must give her a firm appointment or come to her home.”

We then contacted noted disability rights attorney Matthew Dietz to guide us.

Matthew W. Dietz, Esq., Disability Independence Group: “When we brought it to Broward’s attention, they said, ‘You know, that something we really need to look at.'”

Matthew says it’s the state, county and the hospitals’ responsibility to accommodate people like Georgia, and he says, in her case, it would be simple for Broward to do, since Miami-Dade already has a plan for people like her.

Matthew W. Dietz: “Then the accommodation process would be somebody to say, ‘Well, Georgia, you can do xyz at this facility, and we’ll make a time for you.’ For her, it’s a simple, easy accommodation.”

But Broward still has not set up a way for people like Georgia to get her vaccine, even though Miami-Dade and Miami Beach are going to homes to give the elderly shots.

Leaving Georgia to just envision what getting a shot would mean to her.

Georgia Rogers: “The most important thing I will do is kiss and hug my children. That’s what I miss.”

Ten months without a hug. Do you ever meet someone and say, “Wow”? That’s Georgia, a wonderful lady.

As for the vaccine, it’s a matter of life and death that they get it to the most vulnerable elderly people, quickly.

Someone needling you? Wanna take a shot with us? We always have time for an appointment to give you the dose of support you need.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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