READING, Pa. (WKBN) – As Pennsylvania continues its accelerated COVID-19 vaccination plan, Pennsylvanians who are not able to leave their homes must be reached, and various state agencies and community groups are helping.
On Monday, Governor Tom Wolf visited Reading to talk about how the state and its partners are using various means to reach people not able to leave home to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Pennsylvanians who cannot leave their homes face unique challenges when it comes to vaccine access,” Wolf said. “We’re all working together to reach out to this population that can be hard to pinpoint. It’s very important to me and to everyone here today that we make this concerted effort to reach out to this group of Pennsylvanians who have been particularly hard-hit by the isolation that comes with a pandemic.”
While it is difficult to pinpoint the number of Pennsylvanians who are not able to leave their homes, the state and its community partners are committed to using all means of outreach to ensure everyone who wants a vaccine can get one.
“We are also working with housing associations, nursing care organizations, our federally qualified health centers and other community partners to identify all Pennsylvanians who cannot leave their homes who need to be vaccinated and connect them to a provider,” Wolf said. “If you or someone you care about can’t leave home and wants to be vaccinated, please reach out to the Department of Health, your local Area Agency on Aging, or the Department of Human Services for help obtaining a vaccine appointment.”
In the Shenango Valley, at least one provider has been doing that for the last few weeks. Staff with Primary Health Network have been using this mobile unit to go out into local neighborhoods and communities.
Dr. George Garrow said one day they inoculated six people, most of them elderly, living with no transportation.
“We had a day when we went out and was vaccinating homebound individuals/ There was not double that these individuals would never have been able to receive a vaccine because they are truly homebound and leaving home would present a challenge for the,” Garrow said.
Ironically, administrators couldn’t use the mobile unit for inoculations until recently because there wasn’t enough vaccine available. Now that doses are in greater supply, Garrow says he and other health experts need to overcome the concerns some have that make them hesitant to get a shot.
“To explain the benefits, the safety, the efficacy of the vaccines and to encourage people to make an informed choice that’s good for them,” Garrow said.
In the meantime, Garrow and his staff will continue working with local churches and other organizations to get into neighborhoods to get as many people vaccinated as they can.
Also on Monday, Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam amended an order to ensure vaccine providers are working with local AAAs and other groups to reach those who are not able to leave their homes. The order was originally signed to connect providers to AAAs, which lead to great success to reach those 65 and older who were having difficulty obtaining vaccine appointments.
Collaborative efforts are already taking place to locate people who cannot leave their homes and get them vaccinated, including those Pennsylvanians who are not receiving services through the Department of Human Services or the Department of Aging.
“The Department of Aging and the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) are committed to helping all segments of Pennsylvania’s older adult population obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, including those older adults for whom leaving their home to get a vaccine is either impossible or highly impractical,” said Aging Secretary Robert Torres.
A list of Area Agencies on Aging can be found here.
A map of vaccine providers can be found here.
The Acting Secretary of Health’s amended order can be found here.