Detroit to inoculate homebound residents in new COVID-19 vaccine push from the Detroit Free Press

June 14, 2021

There is hope for Detroit’s homebound residents who want to receive a COVID-19 vaccine thanks to a new push from the city to inoculate this population, with outreach starting Wednesday  and continuing through the end of November or early December.

The city health department is teaming up with area agencies for the vaccination program, with possibly 40,000 people in the community who may be homebound or in need of services, said Ron Taylor, president and CEO of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging.

“There are tens of thousands of people in this city, perhaps the most vulnerable members of our community, who can’t get out of their house to go to one of our vaccination sites, be it a mobile health site that Wayne Health runs or the many opportunities to get vaccinated through the efforts of the city of Detroit, and we need to do everything we can to reach these folks,” said Phillip Levy, chief innovation officer of Wayne Health.

He said the effort “is going to be huge. It’s a big undertaking. It’s 30 to 45 minutes per person, and we’re going to thousands upon thousands of homes.”

The new strategy to get shots in the arms of homebound Detroiters comes as the city’s vaccination rate for those with at least one dose is 35.8%, well below the first-dose percentage for the state and the city’s neighboring counties.

“We’ve got to do better. We are nowhere near where we want to be at community immunity at 70%,” said Denise Fair, the city’s chief public health officer. “So we do have a long way to go.”

The homebound vaccination program isn’t a small endeavor. It will have 150 teams, who will be in a uniform, have photo ID and be wearing a mask. The nurse will spend 30 to 45 minutes at each residence and will vaccinate not only the homebound resident but any other unvaccinated family members in the household.

The homebound resident will have the choice of receiving either the two-shot Pfizer vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, said Iris Taylor, nursing director for the city health department.

“We don’t want to leave anyone behind,” she said.

She said the state has provided an initial list of the city’s homebound residents. A phone bank has been set up to call these individuals. The caller will obtain basic information, such as a valid address, and an appointment will be scheduled. Calls were slated to begin Wednesday.

The city said in a follow-up release that vaccinations will start Monday.

References from community-based organizations can be added to the list, Iris Taylor said. Homebound residents are those who have a challenge being mobile outside of the home, she said, and can be any age from teenager to senior. The program is not age- or disease-driven.

Ron Taylor said the Detroit Area Agency on Aging operates in nine communities and is partnering with other qualified health centers to provide services outside the city limits.

Fair said the city’s coronavirus case positivity rate is 3.5% and hospitalizations over the last 30 days have decreased from 311 to, on average, about 100. The trend mirrors plummeting case counts and hospitalizations in Michigan.

She said she’s not sure why there is still vaccine hesitancy, but it’s up to the residents to decide if they are going to get the shot.

“Our efforts are not going to decrease. They are going to be enhanced by this homebound vaccination approach,” she said.

Last Friday, Fair said: “We will do everything we can to continue getting Detroiters vaccinated and meeting people where they are. Now is the time to come together as a community to save lives.”

Local and state officials previously told the Free Press that about 100,000 people in Michigan fall into the homebound category, according to a preliminary estimate.

Last month, Wayne County announced it was offering vaccinations to homebound residents in their homes. It partnered with local municipalities to offer the shots in an effort to serve those who cannot get to one of the county public health division vaccination clinics or other clinic sites.

“We want to make sure that someone, that anybody, who wants a vaccine has access to it. Some seniors or residents who say, ‘I don’t drive or I do not want to call somebody,’ you can call your local community and they’ll come in with EMS into your home and give you the shot,” Bill Nowling, spokesman for Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, said when the Wayne County program was announced.

Nowling said homebound residents included those who are bedfast and those in group homes.

Several other local health departments in Michigan have been vaccinating homebound individuals or partnering with EMS or home health nurses to reach this population.

Oakland County Health Division partnered with a medical staffing agency to help it administer shots to homebound seniors and others. In the Upper Peninsula, between 50 and 60 homebound residents had been vaccinated by mid-March by the LMAS District Health Department, which serves Luce, Mackinac, Alger and Schoolcraft counties, spokeswoman Kerry Ott previously said.

She said when a supply of 500 J&J vaccines arrived earlier in March, it made the process of inoculating homebound residents easier. Henry Ford Health System also began vaccinations for homebound members in January and by mid-March had administered about 1,800 doses.

More than 4.8 million Michiganders age 16 and older (just under 60% of the population) have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the state’s dashboard.

Nearly 36% of Detroiters have received at least one dose of vaccine and 28% are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

In the rest of Wayne County, 61% of residents have received at least one dose. In Oakland County, nearly 65% of residents have received as least one shot, and nearly 54% of Macomb County residents have received at least one dose of vaccine.

State and federal officials are shooting for 70% of the population to have at least one dose of vaccine by the beginning of July.

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Leigh-Anne Stafford, director of health and human services for Oakland County, said Tuesday that the county is just shy of  the 70% goal.

Nearly 707,000 Oakland County residents had received at least one dose of vaccine as of Tuesday morning, she said, with at least 57,000 more residents to get the vaccine to reach the 70% mark, or 764,000 residents,   in a little under four weeks.

Stafford called the vaccination progress in the county “amazing” and said seven-day coronavirus case rates now are at 32 cases per day, a case rate that hasn’t been that low since June 2020.

“We’re trending down because of the number of people that are getting vaccinated. But we are not out of the woods yet. We still have work to do. … One by one, we will get closer to ending this pandemic,” she said, referring to a new public awareness campaign called One By One that includes county residents and is an effort to help get to community immunity.

Last week, President Joe Biden announced a mayors challenge to see which city can grow its vaccination rate the most by the Fourth of July.

Mayors in Detroit, Sterling Heights and Westland are among 92 mayors from dozens of states and Washington, D.C., who have joined the challenge, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors website.

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Biden announced a multipronged approach this month to get to the 70% mark of adult Americans with one dose by July 4, including: extended hours at pharmacies every Friday; free child care for people getting vaccinated; free rides to and from vaccination centers by Uber and Lyft, and working with Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons, possibly using them as vaccination sites.

The city of Detroit’s vaccination outreach already includes barbershops and beauty salons, with town halls held for these businesses as well as youth athletic groups and people with disabilities.

The city’s vaccination efforts also include:

  • Multiple vaccination sites, including walk-up, drive-thru, weekend and after-hours locations.
  • Pop-up clinics in neighborhoods, schools, churches, community centers, grocery stores and parks.
  • Door-to-door canvassing teams to educate residents about vaccines and vaccination sites. Teams are to reach all homes in Detroit by the end of August.
  • Good Neighbor program where people get a $50 Visa gift card when they bring Detroiters to scheduled vaccination appointments.
  • Health department mobile unit to provide vaccinations at events in the summer including Flower Days every Tuesday at  Eastern Market, concerts, the Monroe Midway and Riverfront festivals.
  • Vaccine site locator by texting your address to 313-217-3732.
  • Nurse hotline and Facebook Live events with medical experts to ask questions about vaccines.

Read, “Detroit to inoculate homebound residents in new COVID-19 vaccine push” from the Detroit Free Press.

Learn more about the Wayne Health Mobile Unit.

Detroit to inoculate homebound residents in new COVID-19 vaccine push from the Detroit Free Press
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