As Congress is poised to begin voting on the latest major piece of legislation to help Americans cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins is supporting increased resources to help facilitate vaccine distribution, assist employed and unemployed workers, strengthen caregiving and long-term care support, and invest in vital nutrition programs.
"The gravity of the present challenge requires both the recently enacted legislation and additional resources and investments to tackle the growing health and financial needs of the American people,” Jenkins says in her letter to leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate. “It also requires solutions to protect the health and safety of those who have been hardest hit or at highest risk through the pandemic."
Jenkins explains in her letter that older Americans account for more than 95 percent of COVID-19 deaths and they are in desperate need of a better process for distributing and administering the vaccines. “We cannot stress enough how difficult this process has been for so many Americans as they have tried to navigate multiple websites, confusing signup systems, understaffed phone lines and confusing categories of prioritization,” she says in her letter. The measure that is expected to be voted on by the House includes $20 billion for vaccine distribution.
AARP is looking for federal and state governments to not only improve the vaccination distribution process but expand how individuals can get a vaccine — from a broader use of pharmacies to mass vaccination centers and mobile clinics. Also needed, Jenkins says, is the development of “new, critical modes of providing in-home vaccination to home-bound individuals.” The letter also urges the federal government to work with states to create 800 phone numbers for people without computer access to use to schedule vaccine appointments.