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Project Abuelita assists senior citizens in scheduling COVID-19 vaccination appointments

Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more available to local residents, the Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force wants to ensure that the community’s most vulnerable and valuable population is not left behind: elderly, disabled and non-English speakers who lack family assistance or face difficulty in navigating the COVID-19 testing and vaccination process.

The task force is proud to launch Project Abuelita (Spanish for grandmother), a free service in which bilingual volunteers reach out to elderly, disabled and limited-English to non-English speakers in Kern County to schedule COVID testing and vaccination appointments and follow up with them.

“For many elderly or disabled non-English speakers, the process of scheduling COVID testing or vaccination appointments can be overwhelming,” said Jay Tamsi, co-founder of the Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force. Some are unsure where or who to call or how to complete the forms; others have transportation issues or are not familiar with using the internet. Still, some have trouble remembering their appointments, which can be in 1 to 2 weeks. Add isolation, and the process can seem impossible.

“In a time of intense isolation, this generation has felt it even more,” Tamsi said. “Our abuelitos (grandparents) need us more so now than ever in setting up their vaccination appointments, solving transportation issues, and helping them make sense of our changing ways.”

The idea to create the program began when members of the task force began expressing concerns or hearing from others that those hard to reach were struggling with this process. Bilingual volunteers sign up to be trained to take the calls, most which come through the Latino COVID-19 Mental Health Hotline, and help the seniors find COVID-19 testing locations as well as schedule vaccine appointments. Bilingual volunteers also help the seniors connect with a list of free local transportation companies if needed. The volunteers assist in the coordination of pick-up and drop-off.

Project Abuelita is available in English and Spanish, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or leave a voicemail after hours or on the weekend and our operators will call you back. To access this free community program, call (661) 525-5900. This project is scheduled to run through June 2021.

For more information on the Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force, FREE COVID-19 testing sites and other local resources visit http://www.kchcc.org/taskforce.