People who have a hard time leaving their homes are getting COVID-19 vaccines brought to their doors by public health workers.
Over five months into Ohio’s vaccination campaign, 55% of adults have at least one dose and 43% of the total population has at least started a vaccination. But getting vaccines to all who want one takes not just mass vaccine sites for the highly motivated and mobile, but also community work to overcome a range of different access and information barriers.
One example of this is public health workers bringing vaccines to the homebound.
Homebound residents aren’t typically out in the community being exposed to COVID-19, but Dan Suffoletto, spokesman for Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County said they are still at risk, so protection from vaccines is important.
“Even though they’re at home, they may be coming into contact with numerous people who are not staying at home. They have caregivers, they have family and friends who are visiting them, and that interaction with others would put them at greater risk,” Suffoletto said.
In addition, people who are homebound likely have underlying medical conditions that would put them at greater risk of severe disease from the coronavirus.
Since February, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County has provided 355 homebound vaccinations and received referrals from both the Area Agency on Aging and Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
Homebound people often need help from another person to leave the house or they stay home under advice from a medical provider who believes that their health or illness could get worse if they leave their home.
An estimated 1.6 million adults 65 years of age and over living in the U.S. may have trouble accessing the COVID-19 vaccine because they are homebound. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 51% of these older adults face at least one additional barrier, such as living alone or lacking technology.
Nearly 15% of Hispanic older adults are homebound, compared to 7% of Black older adults, 5% of older adults who are American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander, and 3% of those who are white, according to HHS.
Doug McGarry, executive director with Area Agency on Aging, said it’s not clear how many people in the region are homebound.
The Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities connected a few people to get vaccines brought to their home, around three to five people, but it was a small number of clients compared to the more than 4,000 who made it out to the 24 clinics held with Ziks Pharmacy from January through March.
The Ohio Department of Aging, Ohio National Guard, and Ohio Department of Health are working with local partners to offer homebound vaccination visits.
In Montgomery County, people getting a vaccine through the program can choose to get either the Pfizer or J&J vaccine.
Darke County Health District director of nursing Emily Hoisington said they were able to partner with Greeneville pharmacy Medicine and More, which had access to one-dose J&J vaccines. Between her department and a home health agency working with a community health center, Hoisington estimated about 20 to 30 homebound people received vaccines.
Hoisington said homebound Darke County residents can call directly at 937-548-4196, ext. 235 if they want a vaccine.
McGarry said his agency primary connects people to local health departments but the Ohio National Guard fills in occasionally when needed.
“We want to make sure everybody has an opportunity to get that shot in the arm,” McGarry said.
If you are a homebound individual or know a homebound individual who would like a vaccine, please contact your Area Agency on Aging at 1-866-243-5678.