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COLUMN — Don’t sit by the phone waiting for a vaccine appointment

If you are an older adult in the Piedmont Health District, you may be a little confused about how the registration process for getting a COVID-19 vaccine works.

To be confused about this is completely understandable. When phase 1b was first opened up in Virginia, a lot of residents didn’t know where they were supposed to go to get on the list of vaccine recipients. The process was a bit disorderly. Nobody knew who to call or what to do.

Since then, Virginia has established vaccinate. virginia.gov. The website is a “one-stop-shop” for pre-registering for the coronavirus vaccine. There’s also a hotline, 1-877-VAX-IN-VA, that you can call if you are not good with computers or don’t own one.

These are two excellent resources, but I worry personally that there are still many, many seniors in our area who don’t know the importance of these two things.

The vaccination registration process is one of self-advocacy. If you are sitting at home thinking that a health department employee has a list of all Prince Edward residents and they are calling up people one by one to register them, your phone call will likely never come.

I want to make this clear as I worry many do not know it yet — you will not be contacted by your local health department with a date and time to get the vaccine until you pre-register. If you want to get the vaccine, you or a loved one must call the hotline or go to the vaccinate.virginia. gov website. Until you have pre-registered using one of these methods, you will not be contacted to attend a vaccination clinic event.

On Friday, March 5, Prince Edward will be holding its first large vaccine distribution event. Five hundred of the area’s most at-risk residents will be vaccinated on that day. It’s only the first of many similar events that will follow in due time. This is a very exciting opportunity, but you will not be able to take advantage of events like this in the future if you do not pre-register for the vaccine.

Please, if you or a family member are interested in obtaining your COVID-19 vaccine, go to the vaccinate.virginia.gov website. It took me less time to register my loved ones than it takes me to brush my teeth in the morning. The questions were very simple, and I was even given a registration key to check the status of their registration in the future.

If you are not a computer person, you can dial the vaccine hotline or have a friend or loved one do it for you. There are also local organizations like Piedmont Senior Resources and Farmville Cares that will help you to get pre-registered if you’d prefer a more local touch.

If you have questions about the vaccine, including questions about safety and effectiveness, log on to https://www.vdh.virginia. gov/covid-19-faq/vaccination/.

This has been a very stressful and overwhelming time, especially for our community’s older adults. It’s my hope that our area seniors will have a clear understanding of how to get the vaccine.

ALEXA MASSEY is a staff reporter for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Alexa. Massey@FarmvilleHerald.com.