Many vaccine distributors have turned to online forms and virtual lines to sign up for a clinic or vaccine waiting list.By Lindsay Ward

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As the COVID-19 vaccine remains in short supply, quick work with the computer could be the difference between getting a vaccine and having to wait for the next clinic.

People who aren’t as computer savvy say they feel they’re at a disadvantage in the search for the shot.

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“I don’t even know how to turn the computer on,” said Michael Kreuger, a Mt. Washington resident. “I don’t know what button to push.”

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Kreuger has COPD and a heart condition, which qualifies him for Phase 1A of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Without a computer or a smartphone, the retired Pittsburgh firefighter says he hasn’t started his vaccine search.

“There’s no point in it,” he said. “I’m going to sit here for 10 hours a day and make phone calls?”

Internet access has become an integral part of the vaccine search in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Health vaccine dashboard includes a map of locations across the state that have a vaccine.

Many vaccine distributors have turned to online forms and virtual lines to sign up for a clinic or vaccine waiting list.

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  • The setup is easy for someone with ample time to spend online, a good internet connection and good typing skills, but it can leave older and more vulnerable populations out.

    “I think it shows a total lack of integrity on the part of the people that are running this system,” Kreuger said. “They haven’t considered people like myself at all.”

    In a Wednesday press conference, Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen said they’re aware of the early faults in their system.

    “I know this puts at disadvantage those who don’t have access to the internet, those who can’t navigate the sometimes tricky registration site, and those who can’t spend all day at the computer,” she said.

    Allegheny County is vaccinating those 65 and up at clinics in Monroeville. Registration for the clinics is currently online and spots often fill within minutes after they’re released.

    Dr. Bogen believes those without internet access or computer skills will have more vaccine access as more supply becomes available. In the meantime, she says solutions are in the works.

    “We’re making plans to take vaccine right into senior high rises and at-risk communities to vaccinate residents where they live. We’re setting up a phone support registration system and are looking to improve and streamline our registration processes.”

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    Dr. Bogen is asking the public to check in with loved ones and neighbors who may not have sharp internet skills or access and help them with their vaccine search.