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State lacks plan to vaccinate the homebound

Apr 12, 2021 6:33 am

Bethany Bump reports for the Times Union that while a few local health departments, vaccine providers, and offices for the aging are working to get the homebound vaccinated for COVID-19, there is no official state-led campaign informing people confined to their homes how to get vaccinated. “There’s no systemic, holistic plan for reaching this group,” said Beth Finkel, state director of AARP New York. “The governor has done a great job of rolling out the vaccine to so many populations and we are very thankful for that, but the group that really still needs attention is the homebound.” About 300,000 New Yorkers currently receive services in their homes, Finkel says, but many more people are unable to leave their homes. Other states such as Texas, Massachusetts, and Florida have specific plans to vaccinate the homebound. “Other states are acting to address this issue now,” Finkel said. “Why is New York lagging behind?” At least one New York official is cagey on the issue. "Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesperson for the state Health Department, did not directly respond when asked whether the state was working to develop a coordinated, statewide campaign," Bump writes. Others think this job is best left to local officials. “We know these communities. We know these people,” Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said. "I can’t tell you the dozens and dozens of people who have reached out to me on social media to tell me they have a loved one in Knox or Albany who could use this service and so we add them to our list.” But vaccinating people in their own home takes a lot of staff time. “It is very time-consuming because we have to wait with them for 15 minutes afterwards,” Apple said. “And then you move on to the next house which could be 10 miles away or two miles away. So the numbers aren’t huge. We try to do 10 a day or sometimes 15, but if we can only do one a day we’re happy to do it.” Read more about this story in the Times Union.