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Area Agencies On Aging Partner With State To Get Vaccine To Homebound Hoosiers

The sign for the Area 10 Agency on Aging in Ellettsville

(WTIU/WFIU)

There are now almost 400 sites around the state for eligible individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

But just getting to a site can be an issue for some Hoosiers.

Sue Lamborn is the Outreach and Community Relations manager for Thrive Alliance, the Area 11 Agency for Aging based in Columbus.

“Many of our people are not mobile, they’re not ambulatory,” Lamborn said. “They’re on a walker or they’re on crutches, they’re in a wheelchair. So, they may have some difficulty getting into a site to get the vaccine.”

That’s where the state’s Homebound Hoosier Portal Project comes in. The portal is a place for area agencies on aging to enroll persons they’ve identified who meet certain criteria to have the vaccine administered in their homes.

It’s a perfect marriage of agencies, says Area 10 Agency on Aging Care Management Team Leader Melissa Roemer.

“It’s kind of a natural progression to partner with the area agencies, because we already know a lot of people in our community that might have difficulty getting the vaccine and are in those priority demographics to get the vaccine first,” Roemer said.

The project partners with local Emergency Medical Service companies, who also have access to the portal. At the end of the day, the EMS company will gather unused vaccines from local clinics and contact those in the portal to coordinate in-home vaccinations.

Thrive Alliance went live with the program on Monday, and the first person in the area received the vaccine at home that afternoon.

The Area 10 Agency on Aging, which serves Monroe and Owen counties, has registered almost 50 individuals in the portal, but neither county has enacted the program yet.

Roemer has been told Monroe County will utilize the fire department’s EMS when it’s up and running. But she has not been told when that will happen.

In the meantime, the agency is maintaining contact with the persons they’ve registered in the portal.

“If they end up getting a call from one of those EMS providers stating, we have a vaccine dose, could we come by and vaccinate you this evening? Then we can get that feedback and kind of know that it’s really kicked off and it’s actually in play,” Roemer said.

To qualify for the portal, individuals must meet two established criteria. First, the individual must need special transportation or the assistance of another person to leave their home or they have a medical condition that makes leaving home an issue.

If the person meets either of those criteria, they must also meet both of the second criteria – a normal inability to leave home and leaving home must require a considerable effort.

The area agencies on aging are go-to’s for older Hoosiers, and with the minimum age of 65 to get the vaccine, agencies such as Area 10 and Thrive Alliance were there to help.

“We did take a lot of calls initially to get people registered, you know, and then we just kept an ongoing list who needed to get the vaccine in home,” Lamborn said.

Thrive serves Area 11, which is comprised of for Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson and Jennings counties. Lamborn says Thrive Alliance has been busy helping get older Hoosiers set up to get the vaccine.

“In the first six days that we were taking calls, we took over 650 calls from people wanting to get a vaccination,” Lamborn said. “And that was either in home or walk-in clinic if there was one available.”

And while homebound Hoosiers do not come in contact with as many possible infection points, getting them vaccinated against the coronavirus remains important.

“If they are aged and homebound, they need people to come to them to provide care,” Roemer said. “And so if they’re vaccinated, then that can help protect them in the event that someone that’s coming to help them might be someone that is a carrier.”

Roemer is eager to get the program up and running in Area 10.

“It’s going to be wonderful to connect with some community partners to get those vaccines in the home,” she said.

To register for the vaccine, go to ourshot.in.gov or call 211 or your local area agency on aging.

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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