Senior Health

2/22/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine for homebound individuals, particularly seniors,  comes with a set of unique challenges. But it’s an issue that many caregivers will be facing because nearly two million adults over 65 are chiefly homebound, with another 5 ½ million having health conditions that make it hard for them to leave their home.

At this time, no national plan exists for getting COVID-19 vaccines delivered to older homebound adults. And most of that stems from the fact that the first two vaccines to come out, from Pfizer and Moderna, must be stored at extremely low temperatures. As a result, vaccinating someone in their home presents multiple challenges of ensuring the correct vaccine storage temperature, proper handling, and providing a safe and effective administration of the shot.

How can a caregiver help a homebound client?

Since it will be difficult to arrange for vaccination in the home, caregivers will need to explore ways of transporting their clients to a vaccine center.

For those who use a home health agency, contacting them might be an excellent place to start. Some of these agencies are already arranging transportation to vaccination sites for their homebound clients. They are also setting appointments at nearby locations to minimize their clients’ time away from home.

Other agencies can offer someone’s services to accompany a homebound older adult to the vaccine center and provide the necessary medical equipment – a wheelchair, walker, or crutches – to make the trip possible.

What about older homebound adults who are not connected to a home health agency?

There could be some options to get a COVID-19 vaccine for homebound adults who have no connection to an in-home service provider. One would be for the agencies to offer the service to new individuals who are not under their care. The problem would be going through all the steps to onboard a new patient, including registering them, taking their history, filling out consent forms, and providing privacy notices.

Another option is for state and local public health departments or office-based primary care providers to arrange for home outreach. Unfortunately, most of these are not staffed for home visitation and might have to coordinate with home-visiting medical groups.

More information on the COVID vaccine for seniors.

Check with your local government

Although local governments have been slow to get onboard with arranging the COVID-19 vaccine for homebound citizens, there are exceptions.

  • The city of Miami Beach recently transported two hundred of its older residents to a nearby medical center to get vaccinated. And their fire department took 600 doses of the Moderna vaccine to an apartment building for low-income older adults.
  • A central Indiana agency has been contacting older adults and is helping them receive vaccines in their homes or arranging transportation to vaccine centers.
  • The Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources has begun working with transportation providers and volunteer drivers to bring older adults and the homebound to vaccination appointments.
  • The township of Nutley, N.J., recently announced that it would utilize the medical staff from nearby RWJ Barnabas Health to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to anyone who is homebound because of illness or immobility.

Get more information on your community’s social media channels and local news websites.

Getting COVID-19 vaccine for homebound seniors is an evolving story

Right now, it’s probable that caregivers will have to arrange for homebound clients to be transported to vaccine centers. As Dr. Steven Albert, of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Sciences, points out:

It is a very confusing picture right now. It’s easy to get vaccines to nursing homes. But for every one person in a nursing home, there are probably five people in their homes with equal levels of disability who rely on a combination of family and community-based services.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff