Source: AARP Rhode Island

AARP Rhode Island today challenged state leadership to end the chaos of the state’s “nation’s-worst” COVID vaccination rollout effort by implementing a single, centralized system for managing COVID vaccination registrations and appointments.

AARP launched on its web site and social media an online petition demanding the change.

The following letter was sent to state leaders, including the Governor, Lt. Governor, the Department of Health and both the House Speaker and Senate President, called for immediate action and outlined the reasoning and criteria.

“AARP Rhode Island, on behalf of its 132,000 members and Rhode Islanders of all ages, is calling on state leaders to implement a sensible statewide COVID Vaccination Plan that includes a centralized, user-friendly, vaccination appointment registration system accessible via a single web site and coordinated by a phone registration system answered by live, trained staff.

As the state’s vaccination rollout has been identified as one of the worst in the nation, AARP has been inundated by concerns that the current plan, involving multiple phone numbers and a web sites, has led to confusion, frustration and fear.

“Rhode Islanders age 50 and older continue to make up 97% of COVID related deaths and 76% of hospitalizations. The fragmented rollout is not only confusing and concerning.  It also is a prescription for redundancies, as duplicate individual registrations could lead to un-cancelled appointments and wasted vaccine. Older Rhode Islanders – all Rhode Islanders – need clarity and confidence in a system that works for them.

A plan that gets this right is past due. Accordingly, AARP Rhode Island is calling sensible guidelines and transparent reporting  that provides data to track how Rhode Island’s COVID vaccination effort performs. This is what it needs to include:

A Roadmap for Improvement

Prioritize Older Residents – Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 95 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 have been among people age 50 and older. That is why it is critical that older adults be prioritized to receive these vaccines and the associated appointments.

A Centralized, Equitable, Accessible, User-Friendly, Vaccination Appointment System – All consumers must have access to a one-stop means of scheduling a vaccination. This is key to ensuring transparency and effective vaccine distribution and program management. Critical elements of any system must include the elements below.

1)    a simple one stop appointment information and sign-up website requiring only minimum personal information

2)    a centralized, well-staffed, toll-free, phone number to ensure all citizens are able to find and register for vaccination appointments by telephone

3)    a variety of languages available to those seeking vaccination appointments.

4)    options for home bound individuals that bring the vaccine to them i.e. mobile clinics that are aligned with prioritization tiered approach.

5)    an effective appointment confirmation system is also critical – and that appointments made by phone are confirmed by phone

6)    an effective system for scheduling a second dose of the vaccine, as required

7)    a processes to identify any accessibility issues that may need to be addressed

Transparency of Data and Plans Related to Infections, Hospitalizations, Deaths, Vaccinations, and Appointments–citizensdeserve a weekly, if not daily, update on all data available around the COVID 19 pandemic and the vaccination efforts in Rhode Island. A centralized appointment system is key to transparency and information needed to adjust and improve any vaccination efforts. The minimum data Rhode Island citizens should be updated on must include but not be limited to:

1)    Vaccination appointment system plans, challenges, and successes.

2)    List of Team Members and Vendors Developing and Managing Vaccination Program in RI

3)    An abundance of data that provides a dashboard for measuring vaccination progress as well as detailed data that tracks registration (appointments made, shots delivered, variances recorded) by zip code, age and race, as well web site and phone center performance data (including average caller wait times and average wait times at distribution sites).

We are urging you to end the COVID confusion by addressing these criteria. No one should have to navigate a vaccination matrix. Please act quickly.”

Sincerely,

Kathleen Connell                                                     Phil Zarlengo

State Director, AARP Rhode Island                         State President, AARP Rhode Island

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