N.H. Launches New Effort to Help Homebound Residents Get Vaccinated
Starting next week, New Hampshire will begin a large-scale effort to get more vaccines to people who are unable to get to fixed vaccine clinics — either because they lack transportation or have other medical conditions that prevent them from leaving home.
Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said the state has been working to vaccinate homebound residents through a pilot program but will expand those efforts statewide with help from home care agencies, public health networks. emergency responders and other partners across the state.
“Beginning immediately, our home care agencies in our different regions across the state are reaching out to their clients to establish not only who is homebound, why they’re homebound,” Shibinette said. “Is it a transportation issue, or is it that they can’t leave the home?”
The state has already started identifying individuals who may need extra help getting a COVID-19 vaccine through its Choices For Independence Program, which provides home- and community-based care, and will build on this list using the referrals gathered from home health agencies.
Once the agencies identify clients who might benefit from extra support, Shibinette said they will help by arranging either transportation to vaccine clinics or home visits to deliver the shots.
“Once this is done, we will then start a process of people that are able to self-select, which means that we will set up a call center and a hotline for people that don’t receive care through a specific agency but are still home-bound,” Shibinette said.
In some parts of the state, volunteers have been trying to fill in the gaps on vaccine clinic transportation by providing free rides to fixed clinic sites. As previously reported by NHPR, this includes efforts by the Community Volunteer Transportation Company and Volunteers Enabling Transportation in the Monadnock region.
Some other states have been making similar pushes to ensure this population isn’t left behind. Vermont, for example, has been relying on visiting nurse associations and emergency responders to help bring the vaccine to homebound residents, as detailed by VTDigger.