Ohioans now have several ways to get the COVID-19 vaccine, whether that’s through one of the state’s several mass vaccination clinics, county health departments, or their local pharmacy.
But it's a lot harder for those who are homebound.
For homebound folks who want a COVID-19 vaccine, their access right now largely depends on which county they live in with each county handling it differently.
Summit County started its program about three weeks ago after getting shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“It's a one dose protocol, and it's much easier for families,” Summit County Public Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said.
Skoda said with help from community partners they’ve compiled a list of about 150 homebound people. Then they determine if they’re eligible. Skoda said each person is screened and evaluated independently.
“You don't leave your home on a regular basis, that you have in-home health care or a family member, someone who stays with you and helps you. But the criteria is really individualized,” Skoda said. “We've had a few people who have severe arthritis. Technically, they could leave the home. However, it's difficult. It's very difficult and painful. So we've gone ahead and added them to the list so that we can get them vaccinated without undue discomfort. And then we have individuals that are perhaps wheelchair bound or on a ventilator.”
So far, the county’s vaccinated people at 20 homes and 40 more at a housing complex for people with disabilities.
The plan is to get out in the community one or two days a week.
“It's really going to depend on the numbers, how many folks we can throw at it to get it done and the vaccine supplies. As long as we keep getting the J&J, we would be able to do it,” Skoda said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine seems to be the key to homebound vaccination efforts.
Geauga County Health Commissioner Thomas Quade said they’re trying to get some shipments of that vaccine so they can start their program. They’re also working with the county department on aging that will help them use existing Meals on Wheels routes to get it done as efficiently as possible.
“We are eager to get them vaccinated, but with limited resources we are focusing efforts on large clinics. Once we get some Johnson and Johnson, we can prioritize the homebound population since we would only need to do one pass through,” Quade said.
“With the clinics we have been running so far, we can vaccinate 400 to 500 in one day with 8 to10 staff. We run those three to four days per week. With the homebound population, we are expecting to be able to vaccinate one person every 30 minutes once you include the 15-20 minutes for recovery observation and travel in between homes. If we can cut the trips from two to one, we will cut the necessary resources in half.”
Quade said his team is fully involved in the larger clinics. They are starting drive-thru clinics on Apr. 13, where they hope to ramp up to 1,200 doses per day. Those will run once weekly for first doses and then, when second doses are added, they will be twice each week.
Once those get those started, Geauga Health expects to be able to dedicate a vaccination team or two to start the homebound if they receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has also been crucial for efforts in Lorain County.
“It's easier to transport, and it's a one and done,” Lorain County Public Health Commissioner Dave Covell said.
Covell said they too have compiled a list of 103 homebound folks from local churches and the county’s office on aging.
Thirty-five vaccinations have already been completed by teams made up of local EMS and county nurses.
Like Summit County, people have to be screened first to see if they qualify, and Covell said that process has helped them not just with identifying homebound people, but also with improving other vaccination methods.
“As we contacted them and we realized really what they needed was a drive through option. And so we do some drive-thru options for people,” Covell said. “But some folks are really, truly homebound and really need the help, and so that's where we partner with our communities to kind of really identify those folks.”
News 5 also reached out to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. They said they’re still in the planning stages of their homebound vaccination program.
Anyone interested in either Summit or Lorain County’s homebound vaccination programs can call to be added to their list.
Lorain County: 440-322-6367
Summit County: 330-926-5795
Additional Coronavirus information and resources:
Download the News 5 app for free to easily access local coronavirus coverage, and to receive timely and limited news alerts on major COVID-19 developments. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.
See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.
Vaccinating Ohio - Find the latest news on the COVID-19 vaccines, Ohio's phased vaccination process, a map of vaccination clinics around the state, and links to sign up for a vaccination appointment through Ohio's online portal.
See data visualizations showing the impact of coronavirus in Ohio, including county-by-county maps, charts showing the spread of the disease, and more.
Rebound Northeast Ohio News 5's initiative to help people through the financial impact of the coronavirus by offering one place to go for information on everything available to help and how to access it. We're providing resources on:
Getting Back to Work - Learn about the latest job openings, how to file for benefits and succeed in the job market.
Making Ends Meet - Find help on topics from rent to food to new belt-tightening techniques.
Managing the Stress - Feeling isolated or frustrated? Learn ways to connect with people virtually, get counseling or manage your stress.
Doing What's Right - Keep track of the way people are spending your tax dollars and treating your community.
We're Open! Northeast Ohio is place created by News 5 to open us up to new ways of thinking, new ways of gathering and new ways of supporting each other.
View a map of COVID-19 testing locations here.
Visit Ohio's Coronavirus website for the latest updates from the Ohio Department of Health.
View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.