Family begs for vaccine for 93-year-old WWII veteran

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Contact Denver7 is hearing from so many seniors 70 and over frustrated they haven’t been able to get the vaccine. Now, the state is responding with a new hotline, but one Centennial family says it’s not enough for desperate seniors begging for answers.

On the busy corner of Interstate 25 and Colorado Boulevard, Art Silk was panhandling for something he knew he couldn’t get.

“I’m Just trying to get a COVID shot for my 93-year-old World War II veteran father,” Silk shouted, holding a sign that state he would work for his father’s vaccine. “Anyone have any connections?”

Silk said he was trying to raise awareness about the difficulty of getting the vaccine for those who are most vulnerable.

“I felt I had to do something,” said Silk. “My dad can’t do this on his own. At least he has his children, but what about the other seniors?”

His father, Bill Silk, said he tried to get information from his primary care provider. He was sent to his health network and was put on a random wait list.

“I don’t know how people survive this thing,” said Bill Silk. “The pandemic is one thing; it’s bad. But the way this is being handled is terrible– absolutely confusing.”

His daughter, Janet Knisely, said she and her brother spent hours making calls to every provider on the state’s list.

“We were becoming obsessive compulsive,” she said. “I honestly feel like we do more for animals than we do for our older generation that gave so much to our country.”

In a news conference Monday, the state health department announced a goal to vaccinate 70 percent of people 70-plus before the end of February. And the new, centralized hotline could help get them information about providers.

However, the biggest challenge, officials said, is there is not enough vaccine for everyone and there is no statewide wait list. Invitations are sent at random by health providers.

The Silk family could not wait for one of those random invitations.

“It’s like winning the gold lottery,” said Knisely, showing a screenshot of her father’s appointment at a Highlands Ranch King Soopers.

She had searched the website of every King Soopers offering COVID vaccinations until she found an opening.

“We thought we’ll wait til midnight [to try to book] and see what happens,” said Knisely. “And that’s how we got it.”

She and her brother have since volunteered to help other seniors trying to go through the process.

While Bill Silk has an appointment on Friday, he doesn’t think his children should have been begging on a street corner to try to get it.

“Thank God for the two of them here,” he said, pointing to his children. “Until the day I get that shot in my arm I’m still skeptical as to whether or not we’re going to get it. I told Centura I don’t have much time so you better give me a call pretty soon, otherwise you can save the vaccine.”

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