LEWISTON — SeniorsPlus, the designated Area Agency on Aging serving Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties, has launched assistance with accessing COVID-19 vaccinations as part of the nationwide effort by the Department of Health and Human Services to reach all Americans, including the homebound and individuals in remote rural areas. This new social services outreach effort is one of many offered by SeniorsPlus to find solutions to pandemic-related obstacles including access to nutrition, education, and counseling. For assistance, individuals should call SeniorsPlus at 1-800-427-1241.

SeniorsPlus has assisted 3,200 older people and people with disabilities to connect or register to get the COVID-19 vaccination, and with questions about the vaccine, since the end of January. Specifically, the agency has helped with transportation by connecting homebound clients to EMS and other providers able to enter client homes and give them the vaccine, or by providing cab fare, gas cards, or other means of transportation to vaccination sites for clients. In addition, SeniorsPlus has partnered with area hospitals and pharmacies to connect local residents over the age of 60 to a ‘COVID-19 Vaccination Stand-by List’ in an effort to not let any COVID-19 vaccine go to waste.

“Our Western Maine service area continues to have among the highest rate of cases of COVID-19 in the state and so it behooves us to actively assist with getting the vaccines to our most vulnerable and most compromised residents,” said Betsy Sawyer-Manter, President and CEO of SeniorsPlus, said in a news release. “We have taken a ‘whatever-it-takes’ approach to reach these people with the goal of reducing the number of COVID-19 cases through vaccination.”

This vaccine-access project is one of many programs SeniorsPlus is presenting even though the agency is not yet able to open its doors to the public because of the pandemic. Output by Meals on Wheels at SeniorsPlus almost doubled over the past year because of the increase in homebound older adults. Its educational programming went virtual, offering many introductory classes on digital platforms like Zoom and iPad access through its iPad lending program. Caregiver support and ongoing support groups continued via Zoom. Meanwhile, the agency continues to provide information and assistance telephonically and virtually.

Established in 1972 and headquartered in Lewiston, SeniorsPlus is the Western Maine designated Area Agency on Aging covering Franklin, Oxford and Androscoggin counties. The overall program goal of SeniorsPlus is to assist older people and adults with disabilities in its tri-county area to remain safely at home for as long as possible. The mission of SeniorsPlus is to enrich the lives of older people and adults with disabilities, their families and communities, and to support them to make informed choices. SeniorsPlus envisions a future where all older adults and individuals with disabilities are engaged and respected while living quality, independent lives in the communities of their choice. Annually, SeniorsPlus serves more than 19,000 individuals and fields 200,000 phone inquiries.