New program could assist health department workers vaccinate homebound people

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Alabama health officials are aiming to vaccinate homebound and non-ambulatory individuals who can not make it to a vaccination site.

As more vaccines become available and more Alabamians get vaccinated the question now is not who is qualified to get the vaccine but how and when can medical teams get the vaccine to people who are homebound.  

Corey Kirkland, the Administrator for the Southeastern Public Health District, said his department has been building a network so people can get access to vaccinations.

With a successful network in place, he believes now is the time to get vaccines for people who aren’t able to leave their homes as well as their caregivers.

“We have known all along that we did have some homebound that would need the vaccination and we desperately wanted to get it to them. We now get to the point where we are ready too, with enough vaccines coming into the state we can kind of shift gears a little and do this,” Kirkland said.

He said because you have to keep both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at certain temperatures it has been difficult for health department workers to reach homebound people.

According to Kirkland, the home health program has talked to thousands of home health recipients who said they would like to get the COVID-19 vaccination.

In the Wiregrass, Kirkland said, there are over 100 homebound patients who have said they would get the shot if access became available.  

“A lot of them are elderly so they do fall into an age range that is more susceptible to it,” Kirkland said. “We also have many people who are middle age who have a handicap who may have underlying health conditions that unfortunately cause them to need those services.”

Considering the department provides flu shots to homebound patients, Kirkland tells WDHN News it makes sense the department would also administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Kirkland, the pilot for this program has been launched in Northern Alabama.

He said if you or someone you knows is homebound and would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, contact the health department to get put on the list.

“I think it removes a lot of fear a lot of anxiety about how we are going to get to a doctor’s office or to a health department when mobility is a big issue. It maybe just getting transportation once you are out of the house just to get here,” Kirkland said.

Kirkland said he has been in meetings regarding this program and will have more information by the end of the week.

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