Vandalia firefighters providing house calls for COVID shots

The Vandalia Fire Department has started making house calls to deliver vaccinations to residents. Submitted photo
The Vandalia Fire Department has started making house calls to deliver vaccinations to residents. Submitted photo

Thanks to a new joint program introduced by the Vandalia Division of Fire and the Butler Twp. Fire Department, people now have the option of scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination house call.

“We have been talking about this for months,” said Chad Follick, Vandalia Fire Chief. “Way back through the first part of the year when vaccines were first starting to roll out, we were trying to come up with a plan to basically deliver vaccines to the doorstep.

“We thought that if we could do that, get those vaccines right to your door, that you’re less likely to wait or less likely to skip it,” he said. “When we got the most recent 45377 data, we realized that only about 30% of the population in our ZIP code had gotten the vaccine and we wanted to get that number bumped up.”

Follick says he reached out to Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County to gauge the health department’s interest in helping with a household vaccine delivery program.

Vandalia Fire Chief Chad Follick
Vandalia Fire Chief Chad Follick

“At the same time they were trying to figure out a way to get more vaccines out, and they agreed that this was a good idea,” Follick said. “They gave us some guidelines and we put together a procedure.”

The plan uses a strong social media presence to make people aware of the program.

“People go on our Facebook page where we’ve placed a couple of links,” he said. “People can select the appropriate link, which will take them to a very short information card to fill out.”

With the online form completed, Vandalia’s community resource officer will reach out to establish the appointment.

“Once the heavy lifting was done, our community resource person, Scott Jacobs, took the reins and made this thing work,” he said.

In the first few weeks that the program has been available, roughly 30 people have opted for the in-home vaccination.

“We’ve gone to households and provided vaccines for maybe four or five people in the household,” Follick said. “We’re getting it out there … I think it’s a good deal.”

Follick says the opportunity to visit people in their homes has allowed crews to offer other services.

“The nice thing is, when we get out, we have a 15-minute waiting period where we have to stay with them,” said Follick. “We get an opportunity to do things like check smoke detectors or CO detectors, or talk about programs we have to see if there’s anything else we can do for them as a fire department in our community outreach.”

While the program has only been underway for roughly one month, the early indication is residents appreciate the service.

“We’ve had nothing but positive comments,” Follick said. “We had a woman in the community who had her daughter vaccinated and she allowed us to use that image on some of our Facebook campaigns.”

As more and more adults are receiving the vaccine, Follick said the next demographic to focus on is school-age children.

“What we hope to do now is maybe coordinate some mobile vaccine clinics at the schools so that the students can get vaccinated,” he said. “We have been getting phone calls from parents about having their children vaccinated at home, which has worked out really well for us.”

Follick said Vandalia has for years focused on reducing community risk, and that focus fits nicely with the vaccine program.

“We think this is really just the start of a good community outreach, a good community paramedicine program,” he said. “We think there are other things to come that are kind of out-of-the-box thinking for a fire department, and I would tell everybody to just stay tuned because this is the first step in many steps we’re going to do to make our service a value-added service and give you a reason to choose to reside in Vandalia.”