The City of Norwich is hoping to help people who are eligible for the vaccine overcome sign-up barriers.
When people who are 75 and older became eligible for the vaccine, people began calling the Rose City Senior Center to ask for help. Many were having trouble navigating the state's vaccine appointment sign-up system, which requires either internet access and an email or a phone and the time to wait on hold.
"It is frustrating, to say the least," said Mike Wolak, who manages the Rose City Senior Center. He said that a lot of people who are calling do not have email addresses or the ability to navigate the online system.
Wolak was able to help a few people on-site at the senior center, but he wanted to find a way to help more seniors.
"If you don't have technology, this is all foreign to you," said director of human services for Norwich, Lee-Ann Gomes. "If you don't have an email address, you don't know where to begin with that."
This week, volunteers with Norwich Human Services and Norwich Public Schools started making phone appointments with people to help them sign up for the vaccine.
Wolak has helped abut 30 people so far. He is able to create email accounts for them, sign them up on the state's site, secure an appointment and monitor the email account for any updates to appointment times. He maintains a spreadsheet to keep track of everything.
“I keep their registration date, time," said Wolak. "I told them I would keep an eye on their emails for when to set up their next registration.”
Fay Levine, who celebrated her 102nd birthday in October, does not have an email address. She said she was thankful for the help.
"It is something less to worry about," said Levine. "We would be on edge."
Wolak's goal is to keep the appointments for seniors local. If the appointment is no a week-day, the senior center would also be able to help with transportation. The Uncas Health District has been hosting vaccine clinics at the Rose City Senior Center and they have been filling up, according to the director of health.
People living in Norwich who need help can call the Rose City Senior Center at 860-889-5960.