“We have to ensure that the experience, particularly for our elders, including frail elders, is as easy as possible,” Dr. Chokshi said.
For now, many older adults are getting help from friends and relatives, but even that is no guarantee of success. In Riverdale, in the Bronx, Annette Gaudino, who works as policy director for a health advocacy organization, had been trying to register her 95-year-old mother for two days, checking multiple locations. She was not sure if she would be allowed to accompany her to the appointment.
“My mom is increasingly confused, needs a walker and has a part-time home care aide who also needs vaccination,” she said. “There’s got to be a better way.”
Joan Jeffri, 76, who lives in Midwood, Brooklyn — and who was frustrated after being confirmed for an urgent care appointment only to be told later that they had no vaccine — sent a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo alerting him to the problems.
The lightest moment in her last few days, she said, was when she clicked on the link to her local Rite Aid through the city’s website, only to be told there were 11,624 people waiting to enter the website in front of her.
“I burst out laughing,” she said.
Her daughter-in-law finally got her an appointment at a city site after two hours of effort, and she goes for her shot in two weeks.
“Everyone I speak to is insanely and completely frustrated,” Ms. Jeffri said, “and has spent between two and eight hours or more trying to get through.”
Sean Piccoli contributed reporting.