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mosqueda100-(1).pngThe Importance of Helping Your Clients Get Vaccinated

by Laura Mosqueda MD, Professor of Family Medicine & Geriatrics and Director of the National Center on Elder Abuse, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California

Ok, all you wonderful APS workers. Now hear this: Please help all your clients get the COVID-19 vaccination. It is really important and can prevent needless suffering and death.

Wait. What’s that you say? Hey…. no need to yell. Maybe it’s not so easy to follow through with that simple opening message, so let’s dive into the morass together, shall we?

Things to be aware of:

  • Right now, there are two vaccines available in the U.S. and it is projected that more are to come in the next few weeks.
  • Some vaccines are one dose and some are two doses. If two doses are needed, the interval between doses varies depending on the vaccine. It is projected that a one dose vaccine may receive emergency approval in the next few weeks.
  • The storage and preparation of the vaccines is quite variable; some of the vaccines are prima donnas and require very cold temperature for storage. This may limit the ability to safely distribute all types of vaccines to all places and makes it difficult to administer via house calls/home health.
  • The distribution of the vaccine is extremely different depending on your state and county so do your best to keep on top of information from your local health department.

For your clients who belong to a health system, they should receive a notice on when and how to sign up. Many health systems use an electronic patient portal, which may be problematic because many of the people we serve do not have access for a variety of reasons (economic, social, cognitive, physical, etc). Anything you can do to help them gain access to the system may help them get in line as early as possible.

Your clients who have not been to a doctor in years, will likely have to go to a community location that the local public health department and/or a volunteer organization coordinates. There are many partnerships being formed to assist with this and it’s pretty messy right now as folks work to manage the logistical issues: long lines, crashing websites, running out of vaccine, etc. There’s good reason to hope/expect that this will dramatically improve soon. If you stay up to date on the resources in your community, you can guide your clients and help them sign up.

There are some older adults who just will not leave their house or will refuse the vaccine for a variety of reasons ranging from personal preference to paranoia to depression. There are some who may want the vaccine but are overwhelmed at the prospect of figuring out the logistics, and these are folks you can really help by taking them through the process. Whether or not your client is vaccinated, the importance of wearing a mask should be reinforced. Remind folks that wearing a mask (even better to wear two masks) protects them and the people around them. In fact all of the basics still apply: wear a mask, maintain spatial distancing, wash your hands...this is no time to let our guard down.

At the end of this blog, you will find a list of reliable resources that go into detail on specific issues such as vaccines, who is at risk, special issues for people with disabilities, etc. I have also included a link to the Covid-19 Vaccine Resource Center that is kept up to date by the New England Journal of Medicine. It is meant for clinicians but has a lot of good information that you might find useful.

The same advice applies to you! You should get vaccinated, wear a mask or two, maintain spatial distance from others, and wash hands. Look, we are all dealing with our own personal circumstances and reactions to this extraordinary time. Folks like you, who are caring and advocating for others while also managing your own situations, are remarkable and wonderful. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.


Administration for Community LivingCoronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Contains updated information on COVID-19 including a section on vaccinations.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The New England Journal of Medicine: COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Center

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