DeKalb Fire, Health Departments vaccinate 400 homebound residents

As of Thursday afternoon, Georgia had administered more than 6.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. While many people have gone to a mass vaccination site or their local pharmacy to get their shots, for some that is simply not an option.

"I was a little concerned about it.  I thought, you know how would I get transportation to get somewhere," said Catherine Parrino.

Parrino is disabled and instead of traveling to get her vaccine, the vaccine came to her through a partnership with the DeKalb County Board of Health and the DeKalb County Fire Rescue Department.

"There's a lot of the homebound community who can't get out and some of them are bedbound and we want to give them an opportunity to get the vaccine like everyone else in the community," explained DeKalb County EMS Battalion Chief Kim Bullock-Unangst.

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The county launched the initiative in late March and according to Bullock-Unangst, has vaccinated about 400 people.  They started with referrals from Meals on Wheels, but have expanded as residents have called to request appointments.

The team of paramedics and health department workers vaccinates anywhere from 20 to 30 people each day.  They schedule appointments in neighborhood clusters to increase efficiency.  

"I often say this is more like a scalpel approach to the vaccine versus the mass sites that we have throughout the county," said DeKalb County Fire Chief Darnell Fullum.

In order to qualify for an appointment, someone must be considered "homebound:"

  • Because of illness or injury, need the aid of supportive devices such as crutches, canes, wheelchairs, and walkers; the use of special transportation; or the assistance of another person to leave their place of residence.
  • There must exist a normal inability to leave home and be confined to home.
  • Receive skilled services under a plan of care established and reviewed by a physician.
  • Due to this difficulty, generally does not leave their home. It is usually due to advanced age, illness, or a disability.

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"If they didn't come to me, I probably wouldn't have gotten it for a long time.  Probably not," Parrino explained.  "That's why I'm grateful they come out today. It's a good thing.  It's a real good thing."  

To schedule an appointment call the DeKalb County Board of Health at 888-457-016 or the DeKalb County Human Services Department at 404-371-2000. 

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