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Homebound Hoosiers program brings vaccine to Indiana residents at home

Health department and fire department team up to administer COVID-19 vaccine in homes
Published: Feb. 27, 2021 at 11:04 AM EST
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The Clark County Health Department and Jeffersonville Fire Department partnered to go to...
The Clark County Health Department and Jeffersonville Fire Department partnered to go to homebound Hoosier's homes to administer the vaccine.(WAVE 3 News)

CLARK COUNTY, In. (WAVE) - As Indiana continues to ramp up its vaccination efforts, the state is now finding new ways to make sure more people have access to the vaccine. Homebound Indiana residents who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine but are unable to travel to a vaccination site will now have an option to have the vaccine come to them.

This week, the state of Indiana launches a new program that would bring the vaccine to homebound people in their own homes. The idea is to get vaccines to those who wouldn’t have access.

This idea is something the Clark County Health Department has been doing for a month. The health department and the Jeffersonville Fire Department teamed up last month after someone called the health department asking for help.

“We got a phone call from an individual that had a medical condition that there was no legitimate way they could get to our site easily,” Clark County Health Department Administrator Doug Bentfield said.

The health department has a paramedic on staff who operated their Safe Sleep Program and is a public health educator.

“I was like, ‘Well this is an opportunity for us who can’t get to our site,’” Bentfield said.

He called the department’s paramedic, Mike Ross, and they called the Jeffersonville Fire Department, so they could bring an EMT or paramedic with them for house vaccine appointments.

“Our role in this is to aid if there is reaction to the vaccine, we have paramedics and EMTs in the fire department there just in case any reaction happens,” Sgt. Justin Ames with the Jeffersonville Fire Department said.

The health department and fire department started vaccination Clark County Hoosiers over the past month. Bentfield estimated there were three to five people who were vaccinated at that time, as people would call if they needed assistance.

Then, the state launched a program ramping up the amount of vaccines they would distribute in people’s homes.

“The state came along with a similar program which allowed people to actually sign up and register for it and once they did that, that’s made our jobs a lot easier,” Bentfield said.

Since the state’s launch of the program, the county health department has vaccinated about 40 people.

Ross and Jeffersonville Deputy Fire Chief Jason Sharp drove around the county Thursday and Friday, visiting dozens of homes to administer the vaccine.

“[The state program] is a gamechanger for us. Now we can actually get in the homes much quicker, make this more efficient and get the job done and help these folks out as quick as possible,” Bentfield said.

Benjamin and Betsy McPeek have been waiting and hoping for a chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’ve been waiting for it for months,” Betsy said. “I’ve been scared one of us would come down with it.”

The McPeeks are confined to their home. Betsy can’t go anywhere unless it’s by ambulance.

“And I was trying to figure out how to get somewhere to get it because you’ve got the cars lined up for miles people trying to get in line,” Betsy said.

Benjamin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease five months ago.

“Due to her health problems and my health problems there’s no way we could get out and get the shots,” Benjamin said. “The fact that they could come to the home and do it is a big assist and benefit for my wife and I.”

Getting the vaccine around the county throughout the day can be tricky. Ross said they have a six hours to administer all of the shots from the moment they pick up the vaccines from the freezer.

“We’re all over the county today,” Ross said Friday afternoon outside of the second stop for the day. “This trip was like a 30 minute trip that we just did. We’re going to do that again when we finish here. We’ve got five or six places to go, too.”

Betsy said when she heard about the program she was incredibly thankful.

“When you get our age, it’s hard to fight things off, harder to fight things off,” she said. “With the vaccine coming to us, of course we’re both homebound and can’t get out, you know. So having them bring it do us is just a godsend. It’s just wonderful. I’m just really thankful for that.”

If you are eligible for the vaccine and are homebound, call your Area Agency on Aging at (800) 986-3505.

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