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Pima county residents struggling with COVID registration, especially elderly residents

Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 1:43 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2021 at 10:27 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Less than a week into phase 1B, some southern Arizona residents are having trouble navigating the registration process.

Especially those 75 and older, who are struggling with the online form and now turning to others for help.

“It’s not been easy, and I’m on a computer 11 hours a day,” said Pamela Mathis. “So I cant imagine people who have limited access, no access, and aren’t tech savvy.”

Mathis is the sole caretaker of her 87-year-old mother and was able to help register her for a vaccine appointment at Tucson Medical Center. However, it was not an easy process.

“I had to take a survey, then I had to set up an online account and then that wasn’t good enough. TMC then had to go through that, and confirm eligibility, and then get back to me on setting up the account. Then, they had me go back in another time, then set up an appointment. But then, there were no instructions on where to go,” said Mathis.

She’s not alone in her frustration. Jorgiana Jake has now helped 3 people in the 75+ age group register due to the process.

“I teach computers, and this was even hard for me,” said Jake. “You go through 3 pages of questions and it’s rigorous. They ask all kinds of questions, you fill out the whole form, and then at the end its ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’. You don’t get an appointment.”

The Pima County Health Department told KOLD that they are working on those issues and have several strategies under development to be released soon.

In the meantime, there’s a phone number for registering, 520-222-0119 that is staffed Monday-Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. However, there’s been complaints of long wait times and the early closing time.

“We are struggling,” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero. “The county is struggling to be able to deliver the vaccines to the arms of our vulnerable community. Unfortunately the lack of organization coming from the federal and state government is here on our doorstep in Pima County.”

Mayor Romero said she understands it’s frustrating but they’re asking you to not give up.

“Please be patient and continue asking your relatives or yourselves to sign up online or call the number to schedule your test.”

Currently, the state does prioritize residents 65 and older for vaccination, but counties like Pima County do not.

However, Maricopa County does, and health officials recommend residents 65 and older who don’t qualify for vaccination in their own counties to travel to Phoenix to receive the vaccine.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.