With call centers overwhelmed, county health leaders are asking residents to sign up for vaccination and testing appointments online, but that can be a challenge for those who are not tech-savvy.
One local, Kelsey Hazelton, says she was determined to bridge the gap and help seniors in the area.
It all started by helping a struggling family member navigate the internet to schedule a vaccination appointment during her lunch break, then grew quickly.
She said, "I know some people from church that are elderly and don't even own a computer, so I just gave them a call and I said, hey, I did this for my mother-in-law and I am looking to help each other and help people in need, do you want me to register you for your vaccine?"
In the past 4-5 weeks, Hazelton says she helped register 25 people for their vaccination appointments.
She has found it to be a quick process and a time saver for seniors who sometimes have to wait more than an hour to get through on the phone.
"I just call and get their name, email if they have one, their phone number, their date of birth, and I put it in the system. As soon as I get their appointments scheduled I shred it and they are good to go, they just show up and get their vaccine."
San Luis Obispo resident Kathleen Clifton credits Hazelton with getting her, her sister, and her husband all signed up for their vaccination appointments.
"[I was on] the cell phone with Kelsey and on the landline with my sister who is three years older than I am and Kelsey walked us through what screen we should be looking at and where we should click. Without her help, I don't think we would have gotten in," Clifton said.
According to 2017 data from the Pew Research Center, more than 80% of 65-69 year-olds are internet users, yet fewer than half of all seniors (44%) over the age of 80 use the internet.
For those who are struggling to work with technology, there are groups like Visiting Angels in San Luis Obispo that can provide technical assistance as a part of the home care they offer.
Kelsey Allchin says caregivers in her company help bridge the technology gap for their clients.
"For many of our clients, however, technology is a challenge so our angels will bridge that gap for them, they will set that appointment for them, they will take them to that appointment as well," she said.
Seniors looking to book a vaccine appointment in San Luis Obispo County can call the Phone Assistance Center at (805) 543-2444 or visit recoverslo.org/vaccine.
In Santa Barbara County, call 2-1-1 and select option 4, or visit publichealthsbc.org/vaccine.
Both counties are currently vaccinating healthcare workers and residents over the age of 65.