Many seniors say they struggled to make appointments to get the vaccine

TEMPE (3TV/CBS 5) -- The soft launch of the State Farm Stadium COVID-19 vaccine site and the open registration that began Monday brought frustration for numerous families who tried to sign up.

Many seniors say they struggled to make appointments, hitting roadblocks and finding themselves unable to get in.

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We've heard from so many about their difficulties. But even in this pandemic, there are people who want to help and they might live right next door.

People like Barbara Riley need this vaccine, the 78-year-old told us that one of her friends died last week and she believes it is from the virus. But the problem is, she can't sign up for the vaccine. So she asked her neighbor of more than 30 years to help. "It's very important to get a shot," said Riley. "We think we had a friend die Wednesday night from COVID."

That's why she woke up at 5 a.m. Monday morning to sign up for phase 1B for the vaccine. "I told her I would help out," said Debbie Torzone. "My concerns were that it was very complicated for this population, you know, for her to get on and the steps involved." So she texted a step-by-step and woke up at 6 a.m. Monday incase she had any trouble. "We've been neighbors a long time; we wanted to make sure she got the vaccine and could move forward," said Torzone. "Seventy-five and older is a high risk population."

Lending a hand means almost as much as the vaccine. "She's been my friend and helps out a lot, I really appreciate Debbie," said Riley. But right now, it's still not enough to get Riley the shot in the arm. She wishes there was a better plan, especially for people who don't have a friend next door. "I was wondering if there could be a center where older people can go that don't have neighbors like Debbie," said Riley.

Many seniors we talked to had similar frustrations in signing up to get the vaccine. But some had advice for others trying to get a slot.

Buffie Kelly, 78, said you can land an appointment with successful tips she got through trial and error. At 6 a.m., she tried to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine on her smart phone. A message popped up, saying mobile phones and tablets were not supported.

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Later in the day, the state health department's website changed to say computers, laptops, iPads and iPhones would work, but Android devices were not supported.

Kelly grabbed her computer, only to find more trouble. "I kept getting an error message and kept getting an error message," said Kelly. "I'm not a techy, so error messages just stop me. After about an hour of this I said, I quit."

But an hour later, Kelly tried again. "I got a little further along, but I still couldn't get to the Cardinals stadium, which I want, because it's only 10 miles from here," said Kelly.

She called 2-1-1, a number for seniors who need help booking their appointments, but she said the line was busy all morning.

Finally,  friends around Kelly's senior community taught her a few tricks. When adding insurance information, she found it easier to enter Medicare instead of her private insurance. She learned if she came to a dead end, she could always go back to the previous page and try something new. By lunchtime, with a little patience, she finally got a Friday appointment in Glendale. "I cheered," said Kelly.  "I yelled. I screamed. It felt so good."


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