The news has been filled with stories of the difficulty seniors are going through to arrange COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Even if you're tech savvy enough to navigate the internet, finding an open spot is still harder than finding a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, a pilot program in Utica-Rome is starting to assist seniors with making those appointments by phone.

Kinney Drugs is working with New York's Association on Aging for the program operating in twenty-one counties for ten weeks. Kinney Drugs will set up vaccination clinics at their stores for residents 65 and older. The Association for Aging's local offices will then work with seniors on setting appointments for those clinics over the phone.

To get an appointment, contact the Office for Aging in your county. The clinics will begin the second week of March, which would be Monday, March 8. Here are some of Central New York counties taking part in the program. Click the link to visit their respective websites, or call the phone number for more information.

Oneida (315) 798-5456
Herkimer (315) 867-1121
Madison (315) 697-5700
Lewis (315) 376-5313
Oswego (315) 349-3484
Onondaga (315) 435-2362
Jefferson (315) 785-3191
St. Lawrence (315) 386-4730
Fulton (518) 736-5650
Hamilton 518-761-6347
Cortland (607) 753-5060
Otsego (607) 547-4232
Montgomery (518) 843-2300 Ext. 229

If you need a information on a county not listed here, visit the Office for Aging's website for county by county contact details. These clinics will be for 65 or older residents only.

Sauquoit Woman Helping Seniors Set Up COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

Cheryl Jassak-Huther is helping her community, especially seniors, setup vaccine appointments after noticing the difficult time people were having. "Vaccine appointments typically need to be made online, which can be difficult for the older population," says Cheryl. "They don't usually have access to computers, don't know how to work the system."

Cheryl, who battled COVID in December knows the hardship the coronavirus can bring and how crucial this vaccine is. So every morning before work she starts searching numerous sites, looking for open time slots to book appointments. "I continuously refresh the page, which will bring up more appointments. Once you find a time slot, you have to fill in the information pretty rapidly or you will lose that spot."

Cheryl Jassak Owen is helping her community, especially seniors, setup vaccine appointments after noticing the difficult time people were having. So, far Cheryl has helped more than 100 people receive the COVID-19 vaccine. "It can be a long process, but I am determined to help," she says. "I believe in paying it forward and we have to work as a community to be able to beat this virus and get back to a state of normalcy."

If you need help, you can contact Cheryl via email at cheryljassak@yahoo.com or on her Facebook page to provide the necessary information she needs to book your appointment - name, address, phone number, date of birth, email address, and insurance information. "Some give me an idea of what appointment times work best, but that can be difficult with how fast the vaccinations book up."

Mass vaccination sites have been set up around the state along with more than 100 'pop up' sites at churches, community centers and public housing complexes for eligible New Yorkers.

Eligible New Yorkers in Phase 1a and 1b are:

  • Individuals Age 65 and older
  • First Responder or Support Staff for First Responder Agency
  • Fire
  • Police and Investigations
  • Public Safety Communications
  • Other Sworn and Civilian Personnel
  • Corrections
  • School and College employees
  • Childcare workers
  • Public Transit
  • Grocery and Convenience Store workers
  • Homeless Shelter workers
  • Health Care
  • Nursing Homes
  • Restaurants
  • For-hire vehicle drivers

To see the full list of those eligible and answer all your vaccine questions, visit the New York State COVID-19 vaccine website.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.