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AGEWISE: Scammers try to take advantage of COVID-19 fears
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AGEWISE: Scammers try to take advantage of COVID-19 fears

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Q: I received a phone message that seemed to be from the Centers for Disease Control requesting a donation for the new COVID-19 vaccine. Is this request real?

— TB

Answer: We’re moving closer to a vaccine against COVID-19 being available widely to the public. Scammers are aware of this and already taking advantage of it. Criminals are becoming increasingly savvy and are always looking to make quick cash through a variety of scams and phishing tactics often targeting the elderly.

The scam you mention is one of the latest. Calls appear on your caller ID to be coming from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to request donations. It’s possible to make the call look as though it’s coming from a federal agency because there are downloadable apps that make it easy for someone to make a call appear to be coming from another phone number. Remember, federal agencies do not request donations from the general public.

Also remember that if you are being asked to pay for the vaccine it is a scam. The vaccine is free to everyone. The vaccine is funded by U.S. tax dollars. In some cases providers may charge an administrative fee which should be reimbursed by private and public insurance companies. Those without insurance may have those administrative costs covered under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act which has money earmarked for this specifically.

In addition, you should never purchase a vaccine over the internet or from an online pharmacy.

The vaccine is rolling out to the public and will be made available to people in phases/groups, according to factors such as occupation, age, vulnerability to the virus, etc. Strict protocols are being put in place to administer the vaccine. You cannot pay anyone to sidestep these protocols to get the vaccine sooner. To view the planned phases for how vaccines will be administered in North Carolina visit Priority is given to those considered at the highest risk.

Now is the time to be especially suspicious of anyone requesting money or your personal information. Be wary of answering calls from unknown numbers. Do not click on links or attachments from unsolicited emails. Keep in mind scammers can also target you through social media such as Facebook. Never give money or your personal and/or financial information to anyone you do not know.

If in doubt, turn to trusted sources for medical information such as your doctor or the health department. Report any possible scams to the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disease Fraud (NCDF). Their hotline phone number is 866-720-5721 or complete a NCDF Web Complaint Form by visiting

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Q.: Since I’ve been staying a home a lot more the past few months, I would like to find some fun courses online. Is there anything available at a local university?

— LM

Answer: Spring courses in Lifelong Learning at Wake Forest University are now open for registration. We reached out to Thomas Frank, program director, and Mimi Komos, program assistant, and they offered the following information.

Wake Forest is launching a roster of online Lifelong Learning courses through Zoom. Courses begin on Jan. 19 lasting six weeks each and their start dates are staggered so you can easily take more than one.

Most of us prefer a course when we are face-to-face with the professor and can interact more personally, but since that’s not possible for now, online is a great option. One big plus is that people who have not been able to get to our classrooms because of distance, transportation or other reasons can readily take courses.

All of our courses are taught by professors at Wake Forest who are advanced scholars in their field. We are one of few programs in the nation to take this approach. We do so because we want participants to get to know our faculty and we want our faculty to meet adult learners in our region who bring their life experience and interests to the courses.

We are offering five non-credit courses on varied topics that are both timely and significant. The first is a retrospective of World War II and its impact on the world, then and now. Every year there are new books and perspectives on this international conflict, and our Professor Chuck Thomas is an expert on all of it.

A second course on quite a different topic begins Feb. 11. “Fairy Tales: From Grimm to Disney and Beyond” will be taught by one of our professors of German, Molly Knight. This will be an intriguing look at stories that capture human imagination and explore their role in Western cultures.

Courses beginning in March and April will kick off with “Carolina on my Mind: Music of the Carolinas” taught by the talented Kate Storhoff. A second course will address a topic that many learners have been asking for, “The Bible and the Ancient Near East.” This will be taught by Professor Neal Walls who has traveled extensively in the region and has taught Hebrew Bible for many years in the Divinity School.

Finally, the Spring term concludes with “More Fun Than a Yacht: Model Farms and Country Estates in Early 20th Century America.” Reynolda House executive Phil Archer will take us on a tour of the country life ideal advanced by families of means, which included advanced education in modern farming methods and new technologies. Archer is a walking encyclopedia of this era and Reynolda House, so the course will bring our program to its peak as we wrap up the spring.

Please note that no prior knowledge or experience is expected in any of our courses. They are offered for the general public so that their topics can become general knowledge. Registration is open now. For more information about cost, schedules, specific courses, faculty backgrounds and registration, please visit or call 336-758-5232.

AgeWise is a weekly column compiled by staff of Senior Services Inc., a nonprofit organization in Winston-Salem. If you have a question, email or mail to Senior Services, 2895 Shorefair Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27105.

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