Even as more coronavirus shots are administered every day, providers are still figuring out how to vaccinate people who are homebound.
Beth Freeman describes herself as a caretaker-daughter. She lives with Her 83-year-old father, Jim, in San Mateo County. He has Parkinson's disease, doesn't walk and receives care at home provided by Sutter. But the Freemans still don't know when he can get vaccinated, even though he's eligible.
"The one thing my dad does every day is he watches the news," Beth said. "I’m trying to understand how he feels seeing everybody get the vaccine. ... And here he sits at home at 83 with a hugely compromised physical situation."
Health officials around the Bay Area have been holding mobile clinics at places like senior housing centers. But they say going home to home with vaccinations is difficult because of complicated cold storage procedures.
Sutter says the logistics of giving shots to individuals at home are "challenging."
“Currently approved COVID-19 vaccines have complex and specific reconstitution, safe handling and timely administration requirements that make in-home vaccination on an individual basis challenging for all health care organizations," a Sutter Health spokesperson said in an email. She said the company is working toward vaccination capability for home health and hospice patients who are unable to travel to a clinic.
Kaiser says it has done limited outreach to some homebound patients who have been previously hospitalized, reside in a skilled nursing facility or in other circumstances in which they have received a first dose and need a second to complete their inoculation.
"We look forward to launching a larger program throughout Northern California as the vaccine supply becomes more plentiful and the types of vaccine make portability into the home more readily possible," Kaiser said.
The San Francisco health department's Health at Home program provides home health services to some of the county’s most vulnerable residents. The program began administering coronavirus vaccines to clients this week. David Snyder, who heads the program, says his team puts individual doses into a temperature-controlled container then drives to people's homes.
He says patients "have been shocked that we called and offered" them shots. They're "ridiculously appreciative that this service is getting off the ground," Snyder said.
His team plans to give as many as 10 vaccinations a day.
Napa County is conducting mobile vaccination clinics this week, going door to door at senior apartment complexes and mobile home parks.
Contra Costa Health Services has begun running mobile clinics at low-income senior housing and board and care facilities, but said it does not have the capacity to offer individual home visits yet.
Alameda County says it's in the planning stages of how to vaccinate people with mobility issues who live in their own home. At senior affordable housing sites, health care workers have been going floor to floor instead of setting up in one common area in order to vaccinate those who are too frail to move very far.
—Polly Stryker and Jon Brooks