'I want my chance': 72-year-old Sask. man says information about COVID-19 vaccine clinics isn't reaching seniors
SASKATOON -- By the time Ken Marcia saw on the news that seniors in Prince Albert were able to get the COVID-19 vaccine, appointments were already booked up.
The 72-year-old said this is largely due to his rare use of a cellphone, computer and social media, putting him at a disadvantage to get the information needed to book an appointment.
“There was no such thing as a cellphone for over half of my life,” he said. "Everybody should have equal opportunity to get in there. I think it's not done properly."
On Monday morning, the Saskatchewan Health Authority sent an alert to media and posted on its website that people 70 years old and over living independently in Prince Albert could get the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. By late afternoon, all of the appointments were booked.
The alerts were also posted on the health authority’s social media channels.
Marcia said some seniors learned about the availability through word of mouth, and didn’t have easy access to the phone number to call.
He said he wants the province to inform the public that appointments will be available in advance — just like his wife, a health care worker, knew days in advance that she could get the vaccine.
“(It was) very organized, as far as I’m concerned,” Marcia said about the vaccine distribution at the special care home where his wife works.
“This one was not very organized and I would like to know when the next one’s available so, again, I can have my chance. I’m not saying I’m going to get it next time, I’m just saying I want my chance.”
The opposition NDP called for the Saskatchewan Party to implement a consistent distribution plan instead of a “chaotic and inconsistent vaccine rollout.”
Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said they’re considering other ways of contacting eligible patients as more vaccine becomes available, such as through newspaper and radio ads and direct phone calls.
“We’re also … in the process of implementing an online scheduling system, mostly to support phase two where we’ll see much larger vaccine, but we’re trying to approach it in a multi-factorial way, but again, we’re still learning,” said Livingstone.
The second phase of the vaccine delivery plan, which is expected to start in the spring, includes access for the general population while continuing to prioritize at-risk populations.