Ask Us: How can homebound seniors be vaccinated?

Published 10:14 am Monday, March 8, 2021

Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to askus@salisburypost.com.

As North Carolina moves through its vaccination groups, one reader wanted to know whether there were any vaccination options for homebound seniors who were eligible earlier but haven’t been able to make it to a vaccination site.

Rowan Health Department spokeswoman Amy Smith said the department is working to finalize a program in which paramedics would make trips to people’s homes to provide a vaccine. Smith said the program would operate similar to Rowan County’s community paramedics program that ended Dec. 31 after federal funding ran out.

As part of that program, people who tested positive could opt in to receiving regular visits from paramedics employed by Rowan County Emergency Services. Those paramedics provided care for as long as needed to homebound patients who were COVID-19 positive. The program served people who were healthy enough to stay home and sick enough to need some extra care.

To fund the homebound vaccinations, Emergency Services Chief Allen Cress said the county will use money received by the Health Department to give vaccines. While a memorandum of understanding hasn’t been finalized, Cress said it’s likely paramedics who were part of last year’s program will have first dibs on administering vaccines to homebound Rowan County residents.

Last week, Cabarrus County government announced a partnership with the Cabarrus Health Alliance to do something identical to what Rowan County is planning.

As part of the announcement, Cabarrus County said it already vaccinated 30 people who were part of a community paramedics program that launched in 2015. The staff of Cabarrus Health Alliance trained paramedics on the right techniques for storage and distribution before the first shots were administered. The program is not limited to people who are considered seniors.

In Cabarrus County, the qualifications to become part of the homebound vaccination effort include:

• people must be unable to physically leave their home.

• live within the border of Cabarrus County.

• meet the state’s current eligibility requirements.

Currently, providers in North Carolina can vaccinate anyone 65 or older, health care workers, long-term care staff and residents. Starting March 3, the state also allowed vaccine providers to administer shots to frontline essential workers in eight categories.

The categories are as follows:

• critical manufacturing

• education

• essential goods

• food and agriculture

• government and community services

• health care and public health

• public safety and transportation

People can find out if they’re currently eligible to receive a vaccine by visiting findmygroup.nc.gov. In addition to the Rowan County Health Department, which has regular drive-thru clinics for first doses on Thursdays, locals can schedule an appointment through Novant Health if he or she is an existing patient.

For more information about Rowan County’s COVID-19 efforts, visit rowancountync.gov/1561/COVID-19.

About Josh Bergeron

Josh Bergeron is editor of the Salisbury Post. Email him at josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com.

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