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DPH partners with DHS to help get more seniors vaccinated for COVID-19

Updated: Feb. 22, 2021 at 8:10 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Recently announced by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, the Department of Public Health (DPH) will soon have some help getting the state’s most vulnerable population vaccinated through a new partnership with the Department of Human Services (DHS).

Local Area Agency on Aging (AAA), a DHS program, will help the health department by doing things like helping shut-in senior citizens register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and help offer transportation to and from the vaccination sites.

The River Valley AAA says it’s already taking action, according to Director Katie Howard.

“It is very difficult for them to get out of the house, so what we are doing is surveying them to see if anyone needs help with transportation and seeing, for instance, if their caregiver needs a vaccine too,” Howard said.

The River Valley AAA does a wide variety of things for seniors on a daily basis, like coordinate home-delivered meals, homemaker assistance, and whatever else it may take to make independent living a viable option for the elderly.

Seeing how overwhelmed the health department is from the COVID-19 vaccine demand is something they want to help with.

“We want to step in, in an area where we have some expertise in as we try to fill one of these gaps. It’s a big hole,” said Jim Livingston, executive director of the River Valley Regional Commission.

The River Valley AAA will also be able to assist seniors with the registration process to sign up for local vaccination events and follow-up appointments for second-dose vaccinations.

According to the Columbus Health Department, the partnership is a blessing.

“Having them onboard will help get to some of the seniors who are not able to get to us on their own,” said Pamela Kirkland with the Columbus Health Department.

Kirkland says there are roughly 19,000 seniors in Phase 1A who have yet to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and estimates there are many more who may not have registered yet.

Howard says she hopes to change that by first reaching out to seniors already receiving services through the agency.

“We have over 1,000 seniors already and we have to do what we have to do to contact them because for some, it is very hard to get ahold of them,” Howard said.

Kirkland says until they get all the Phase 1A group vaccinated, which includes seniors, they will not be able to move on to the next phase in the COVID-19 vaccination process. She hopes this new partnership will make some headway in the senior population.

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