The Ombudsman Report - Stay Vigilant and Stay Healthy!
by Kathleen Heren, Rhode Island's Long Term Care Ombudsman
Welcome to the Ombudsman Report for August, 2023. Older people now realize that getting vaccinated is not just for children. The pandemic took its toll on the elderly more so than any other age group, not only because of the aging process but also their pre-existing conditions. In addition to the flu shot, older adults are also encouraged to get a vaccine against Pneumococcus Pneumonia. With a sign-off expected soon, those 60 years and older will be able to get a vaccine against Respiratory Syncytial Virus or as it is commonly referred to, RSV.
Just to break these vaccines down, they are the flu, Pneumonia, RSV, and last but not least a COVID-19 booster. Although there is vaccine fatigue, older adults are eager to get vaccinated. The Flu and RSV are extremely dangerous to young children and the elderly. Older adults also wish to be vaccinated so they can continue to have contact with their grandchildren. It should be mentioned that vaccines are no longer mandatory except for employees who work with fragile people who, for example, are receiving chemo. Changing hearts and minds about any type of vaccination is still the responsibility of healthcare providers and public health officials.
The Health Department in Rhode Island has always stressed the importance of being vaccinated. During the pandemic, the health department ran many clinics in different areas of the state to make receiving the COVID-19 vaccine more accessible to those Rhode Islanders who would have never had the opportunity to receive it.
We also have to recognize the effort put forth by our National Guard in vaccinating Rhode Islanders. People have to be convinced to become vaccinated by those they trust. In many instances, it is usually their physician or a nurse practitioner.
A percentage of individuals still do not believe in receiving any type of immunization based on false information they read on the internet. Chicken pox and measles outbreaks have occurred in the past two years because parents did not believe in childhood vaccines. Residents living in long term care facilities have the advantage of receiving vaccines if they choose. Elderly people in the community are sometimes not informed about what shots are available.
The next challenge is to find a ride. Senior centers as well as The Point are very helpful in assisting elderly people in finding ways to receive vaccinations. Family members can remind their parents how important it is to be vaccinated and then take them to the appointment. In closing there is no reason seniors should risk becoming ill or even dying because of not being vaccinated. Our office is willing to direct any caller to the appropriate agency to assist them with vaccination information. Stay healthy!!!
For FREE COVID-19 information and to schedule your vaccine, booster, or testing appointment: Call: (401) 462-4444 or 211
Rhode Island State Long Term Care Ombudsman
Office of the RI State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program
Alliance for Better Long Term Care Inc
422 Post Road Suite 204
Warwick, RI 02888
Ms. Heren provides a monthly guest blog to Connelly Law Offices, Ltd., where she discusses issues and topics that cross her desk as the Rhode Island State Long Term Care Ombudsman. The opinions expressed in our guest blogs are only those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Attorney RJ Connelly III or Connelly Law Offices, Ltd employees.