Thomasville program helps seniors get vaccinated

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THOMASVILLE, N.C. — The North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry gets hundreds of calls from seniors 65 and older across the state.

Lately, many of those calls have been from people still struggling to book a vaccine appointment.

“Often their term is ‘I’m desperate for this shot or for my mother to get this shot,” NCBAM call center director Melanie Beeson said.

“If they’re not comfortable going online, if they don’t have computer access, there are some challenges, and so that’s what we’re trying to work through,” NCBAM North Central Regional Director Samantha Allred said. NCBAM’s headquarters are in Thomasville.

The primary mission is keeping seniors safe in their homes by doing things like providing ramps for people who rely on wheelchairs or walkers.

However, when a vaccine became available, the team started helping North Carolinians navigate their county’s resources.

Call center specialists say there are days when it’s overwhelming, but they are seeing improvement as the vaccine supply expands and more mass vaccination sites become available like the one opening at Four Seasons Town Centre in Greensboro on March 10.

“We’re really hopeful about the FEMA event in Greensboro. We’ve talked to the planners, and they’re very intent on the phone system being more a part of it,” NCBAM Director of Communications Carol Layton said.

“If there are open spots and we’re able to go online for somebody who is 65 and older, and especially in that historically marginalized population, we’ll be glad to do so or direct them to the other FEMA support partners,” Allred said.

In the meantime, call center specialist Shirley Carlson, who is also a retired nurse, looks forward to helping as many people as she can.

“My work all of sudden is becoming a lot more enjoyable doing this because I feel successful,” she said.

NCBAM is asking local churches to become partners and work with seniors one-on-one to guide them through online resources.

If you need help or want to become a community partner, visit the organization’s website for details.

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North Carolina Coronavirus Hotline: 1-866-462-3821

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