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As seniors navigate the vaccine landscape, some worry they'll 'fall by the wayside'

Brianna Parker says her 72-year-old mother showed up for her second dose, only to be turned away. She's now advocating on her mom's behalf.

TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — It's been said a parent will do anything for their child.

And in Brianna Parker's case, the opposite is now true, too.

"My mom is 72 years old," Parker said Monday via Zoom. "I'm not going to let my mother be impacted in this way."

Parker is on a mission to get her mother, Marie, her second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. According to Parker, her mother, a 72-year-old retiree from Mansfield, showed up last week at Arlington's Esports Stadium for what she thought was her second dose appointment.

"Her card clearly says February 4," Parker said. "And she shows it to them and they tell her 'We're not doing second doses today. You missed your appointment.'"

An email from an unfamiliar address alerting her of an adjusted February 2 appointment had landed in her spam folder. She did not receive a call or a text, Parker said, and had no idea anything had changed.

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"We're trying to call," she said. "No one has any answers."

She's now advocating for her mother, knowing the vaccine infrastructure is a hard one to navigate for a 72-year-old. With so much based online, she wonders how many others are lost, too.

"This is more about the senior citizens in our community who do not have an advocate, who are not tech-savvy, who are just going to fall by the wayside," Parker said.

That fear is echoed by Stacey Malcolmson, the president and CEO of The Senior Source, a North Texas non-profit devoted to improving the quality of life of older adults.

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"We’ve known even from the beginning of the pandemic that technology was going to be a major challenge" for seniors, Malcolmson said. "It is a huge concern that seniors will be left behind in this pandemic."

Malcolmson points out that some seniors only have cell phones, not computers, and are trying to fill out their personal information on small screens when signing up for vaccines. From sight to questions about security, the situation brings up a host of challenges. 

The Senior Source is now helping seniors with their vaccine registrations and questions, of which there are many. The help is available for any senior.

"Right now, if they don't have a family or someone close by, they're going to be left behind. And that's where we are stepping in," Malcolmson said.

Parker recognizes this is an issue.

"This becomes much bigger than my mom," she said.

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After we reached out to inquire about Parker's mother's situation, the city of Arlington said Parker should come Tuesday to get vaccinated. They added that if others miss their second dose from Arlington locations, they too should show up as soon as possible.

Parker had to wonder: if she hadn't stepped in, would her mother have slipped through the cracks?

For help through The Senior Source, call 214-823-5700 or visit www.theseniorsource.org.

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