Medical centers and other health organizations have begun sending doctors and nurses to apartment buildings and private homes to vaccinate homebound seniors, according to a Kaiser Health News report.
Among the organizations involved in the efforts:
•Boston Medical Center, which claims the oldest in-home medical service in the country, has been delivering vaccines to homebound seniors since Feb. 1.
•Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina followed Boston Medical one week later with its own home-delivery effort.
•Fire department paramedics in Miami Beach, FL, are delivering vaccines to frail seniors in their homes.
•A visiting nurse service In East St. Louis, MO, offers at-home vaccines to low-income, sick older adults who receive food from Meals on Wheels.
• Geisinger Health, with services throughout central and northern Pennsylvania, has identified 500 older homebound adults and is bringing vaccines to them.
• The Department of Veterans Affairs has provided nationwide more than 11,000 vaccines to veterans who receive primary medical care at home.
Why the push? Because of need. There are between 2 million and 4.4 million homebound older adults, the article notes. Most are in their 80s and have multiple medical conditions, which makes it difficult for them to leave their homes to get vaccinated. Also, unlike nursing home residents, they have not been prioritized for the vaccine.
It is not easy to reach this population, in part because home care agencies and hospice organizations cannot access COVID-19 vaccines for their staffs or patients, the article points out.
“There is no distribution of vaccines to our members, and there has been no planning surrounding meeting the needs of the people we serve,” William Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice told the news outlet.
Another issue has been low reimbursement rates to administer the vaccines, but the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services raised the rates this week.