In-Depth: Plan in the works to vaccinate San Diego County’s homebound seniors

Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-18 22:56:02-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Starting Monday, homebound seniors who want to get a COVID-19 vaccine will be put on a list to receive an at-home vaccination.

According to San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, homebound seniors can call 211 starting next week to add their names to the list.

Fletcher said someone would then follow up with each senior. The vaccine supply across the county is currently limited, but once more doses are available, those seniors will receive a home visit to get a shot, and someone will wait with them for 15 minutes after.

“We have one provider who will do it, and then we’ll most likely utilize our firefighter teams who are out doing the long-term care facilities now, we’ll just continue that same work in taking care of folks in their homes,” said Fletcher.

As part of a way to vaccinate seniors at home, the county has focused on long-term care facilities first.

“We’ve done close to a thousand now, and the rest are scheduled,” said Fletcher. “We are going to then shift and go to seniors who we know we regularly provide services to, who are homebound. We have a list of a lot of those folks, and seniors that are homebound or disabled can call 211 and register and get on a list to be part of that program as well.”

Paul Downey is the president and CEO of Serving Seniors, a nonprofit that helps with housing needs, health and social services, and home-delivered meals to low-income seniors countywide. His team members interact with many of these seniors daily, and he hopes to collaborate with the county on this effort to make sure they are not left behind in the vaccinating process.

“We do feel we could be a resource to the county, and hopefully, we’ll be able to work more closely with them,” said Downey. “I’m very concerned about access for these folks. We know where these folks are; we’re going to about 4,000 of them every single day.”

Serving Seniors provides meals to thousands each day. Downey said case managers have been receiving calls from seniors worried they won’t be able to get a vaccine.

While some don’t have access to a computer or smartphone to book an appointment online, others cannot leave their homes to get a shot.

“We’re getting hundreds of calls a day from panicking seniors who are saying, 'help me get a vaccine,' so we’re doing our best. But the resource we have is going to the county website like everybody else trying to get a vaccine and trying to get them scheduled,” said Downey.

Fletcher said the plan’s logistics to vaccinate homebound seniors are still being worked out and could be a lengthy process.

“It is going to be a little bit slow because it’s obviously not as efficient. You have a super station, you do 5,000 in one site. If you’re going to someone’s home, it’s going to take us longer because of the limitations on staffing, and transportation and you got to wait and all of those types of things. We ask for folks’ patients,” said Fletcher.