CLEVELAND — The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County are beginning to vaccinate homebound individuals in the area and are currently accepting referrals.
Eligibility for homebound individuals looking to schedule a vaccine appointment is being screened by the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging.
Homebound individuals include those who need the help of another person or medical equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs and crutches, to leave their homes. It also includes people whose medical provider believes their illness or condition could get worse if they leave their homes.
Mark Olson, of Lakewood, fits into that category.
“I have severe emphysema. Bad COPD,” Olson, 63, said.
Those conditions put him at high risk to get seriously ill if he contracts COVID-19, so for the most part, he’s stayed inside and stuck to his faith to make it through.
“There wasn't much I could do, I just said a few more prayers to the Lord and that's what I did,” Olson said.
And for the last several months, he’s also been waiting very patiently to get vaccinated while watching so many others go out and get it done.
“I couldn't get out to where they were giving this shot somewhere in public,” Olson said.
Then, a few weeks ago, Olson's doctor told him about a new program in Cuyahoga County to get vaccinated at home.
“These folks could be seniors, they could be folks who are disabled,” Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan said. “And there may be caregivers in the home that are there and they really aren't able to get out themselves so much because they're committed to that care.”
For the last six weeks, nurses with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and local EMS have been traveling to different neighborhoods in the county to vaccinate homebound people like Olson.
“It's been an extremely rewarding experience. The clients are extremely grateful and very welcoming when we come to their homes,” said Amy Geiss, a public health nurse supervisor with the board of health.
So far, they’ve done around 100 vaccinations.
“We saw this as a gap-filling opportunity because the home health agencies are also going into homes and doing a vaccination for their clients,” Allan said. “We're helping to reach those who have fallen through the cracks and don't have access to those services.”
Olson got his shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine last week inside his Lakewood home. He said he was overjoyed for a couple of reasons.
“After they were in the door for a minute or two, I don't think I stopped smiling. I was so happy to see them. I was just happy to get the shot,” Olson said. “It was really nice to have some company and other people to talk to.”
Olson said the team spent nearly an hour with him, answering questions and making sure he was okay after the shot.
He’s grateful that there are people out there looking out for those who need help most.
“When people come to your place and you know they have a concern, and they're there for your health to help you out, it has a tendency to open up your tear ducts,” Olson said.
Cuyahoga County joins Summit County in offering the vaccine to homebound individuals. Summit County began the program in March.
To check availability for homebound vaccinations in Cuyahoga County, call 216-621-0303 or click here.
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