J&J pause making it harder to reach the homebound

Jennifer Lewke
Created: April 16, 2021 06:53 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is slowing down the effort to get the homebound vaccinated here in the Finger Lakes region.

News10NBC had already been taking complaints from families having trouble getting their homebound loved ones vaccinated and now they’ll need a vaccinator to come to the house not once but twice.

“More recently she has not been able to leave her home, she has very limited mobility, even with assistance she has difficulty getting in and out of a car,” said Tim Vaughn in regards to his mother-in-law, Shirley, who is homebound.

The family has convinced her to get the vaccine.

“You've got family friends you've got a home healthcare service agency people coming in and out of your house every week so you really need it,” Vaughn said.

But now they need someone to come and give it to her.

“We contacted Monroe County, we contacted the State, we contacted the home health care provider, we've contacted her local physician’s office… nobody has a clue of where to go or how to get it done at home,” Vaughn said.

Other families have reported similar struggles to News10NBC.

In other parts of the state, local programs have been put together in partnership with ambulance companies to bring vaccinators and vaccine to those who are homebound but there is no over-arching statewide policy and apparently, the plan for a local one is still under development.

“I think this is a forgotten population and if it hasn't happened by now if they haven't put a program together I am concerned there won't be one put together,” Vaughn said.
In a statement, Dr. Nancy Bennett, Director of the Finger Lakes Vaccine Hub says, “There is a plan to vaccinate those who are homebound and it does include partnership among the Hub, the Regional Counties, private practices and other organizations.”

But, they planned to primarily use the singe-dose J&J vaccine to do it.

“Our hope was to be able to administer those and not have to worry about a second visit, those plans are now going to have to go on ice and will have to find ways to make it work with one of the available Moderna or Pfizer products,” Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said at a press conference this week.

In a statement, a spokesman for the NYS Department of Health says, “Our goal is to equitably and efficiently vaccinate as many New Yorkers as possible, as quickly as we can, which includes vaccinating people who are homebound. NYS is working with multiple local agencies and organizations including local health departments, hospitals, regional vaccination hubs and their network partners, home health care and visiting nurses’ associations, state and local offices for the aging, in-home pharmacy providers, and community paramedicine programs and to implement creative local plans to vaccinate the homebound population.”

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