The new Massachusetts Homebound Vaccination program offers in-home inoculations for individuals who cannot leave their homes for a vaccination appointment, even with assistance. Many local health boards, including Hull’s, are managing this program for the homebound in their own communities.
“We are not following the state’s in-home vaccination program as it involved too much paperwork and the process was too cumbersome,” Hull Public Health Director Joyce Sullivan told The Hull Times. “The criteria were very restrictive and created a hardship for some homebound to navigate.”
However, the Hull Board of Health has run out of the vaccine provided by the state for this purpose and is not accepting any more in-home appointments at this time, according to Sullivan. There is no waiting list.
Sullivan and Public Health Nurse Joan Taverna have vaccinated about 30 (mostly) seniors in their homes already; others were vaccinated in their vehicles outside the Mary Jeanette Murray Bath House during a recent local clinic.
“Because it’s easier to go to their houses than to administer the vaccine in a parking lot, we encouraged seniors who still need a second dose to have it done in their homes,” Sullivan said.
This past Monday during home visits, she and Taverna administered 20 doses – some first, and others, second doses – to 19 seniors and one person with a disability. Some of these cases were referrals from the South Shore Visiting Nurse Association.
“We have enough of the vaccine left to finish administering second doses on April 26 to those who received first doses March 29,” Sullivan explained. “Unless something changes with the state, there will be no more in-home vaccinations after April 26 because we will have run out of the vaccine.”
Most Hull residents eligible to receive in-home vaccinations have already been fully vaccinated or will get their second dose in April, according to Sullivan. Most of them are age 75 or older.
“We know who our in-home people are in Hull and have made every effort to make sure they get vaccinated with the doses we were allotted,” Sullivan said. “Most of our homebound and their families and caregivers have seen us for flu vaccines in their homes and are comfortable with us as their local health department, so we continue to try to ensure that they get vaccinated.”
Homebound residents who have not been able to take advantage of the Hull-based program can call the state Homebound Vaccination Program Central Intake Line at 1-833-983-0485 Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or the Hull Manet Community Health Center to find out if there are additional vaccination clinics scheduled for that location.
If an in-home vaccination is not deemed appropriate after calling the state intake line, the caller will be referred to other resources for assistance in scheduling an appointment at a vaccination site or in finding a transportation solution.
Due to logistical considerations around vaccine expiration while in transit, those in line to receive in-home vaccinations through the state program will be grouped geographically and not on a first-come, first-serve basis. It could take several weeks to be administered an in-home vaccination under these circumstances, according to state officials involved with the program.
Sullivan said there are many Hull residents who qualify under different phases of the state vaccine rollout plan who want to be vaccinated.
The state is no longer providing local communities with first-dose vaccines due in part to limited supplies and a focus on first providing vaccines to mass-vaccination sites and regional clinics but earlier made a commitment to provide second-dose vaccines for individuals who already received their first dose through a Hull or other South Shore municipal clinic.
Individuals seeking assistance in pre-registering or scheduling an appointment at a vaccination site can call 877-211-6277.
Sullivan and her team will continue to keep residents up-to-date as more information becomes available.
“If the state ends up giving us more vaccines for the different phases [of the rollout plan], we are on board … to administer more vaccinations,” she said.