Florida set aside 1,500 vaccines for homebound seniors. Many more are needed

Aging True lists about 106,000 seniors in Northeast Florida as homebound

Governor Ron DeSantis says 1500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be set aside and given to homebound seniors across the state. News4Jax reporter Marilyn Parker spoke with Senior Advocates about this plan.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis says 1,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be set aside and given to homebound seniors across the state.

Though there’s been a push for seniors to get their shots first, not everyone 65 and older can make it out to these sites to get the vaccine.

“I mean, that’s a nice start. But 1,500 for the whole state of Florida, that’s just a drop in the bucket,” said Lori McMullin with Aging True.

Data from 2018 shows 17% of elderly Floridians are medically underserved, and 10% are living in medically underserved areas.

Even though they’re homebound, it’s just as important for some of them to get it.

Barbara Lane cares for her 92-year-old mother Clay Ann Kelly. She’s been homebound for about seven years, now facing dementia and has limited mobility.

Lane says she wants her mother to get the COVID-19 vaccine, hoping to reunite with family but says it’s a challenge just getting her to the doctor’s office.

“It’s hard to keep her still and then she after a period of time she gets agitated and irritable,” Lane said.

It’s the case for many homebound seniors, and Gov. DeSantis said the state is putting aside 1,500 doses of the vaccine specifically for this group.

Lori McMullin with Aging True Community Senior Services says it’s hard to determine how many seniors are homebound and would need this service.

Levin said access to vaccines is needed for the entire community but says, homebound seniors are a different challenge.

“Not because of lack of transportation, but because they are frail, and they’re not going to get to a location and they’re not in a facility where the vaccine is going to come to them,” Levin said.

Levin says homebound seniors need the vaccine because they may have caregivers who come to them and could potentially expose them or cases like Lane and her mother who want to see family.

“Even though they desire to see her, we tell him that no, I told him that I would, you know, try to come when we could get our vaccines and make sure that everybody else is safe,” Lane said.

But they are going to have to wait like everyone else.

Places like Aging True are working to register their clients for the vaccine.

The organization said clients are split down the middle on if they want it, but again, it’s about if and when it’s available to them.

The state said it will develop strike teams to distribute the vaccines, but county health departments have to request them. News4Jax reached out to Duval, Clay, and St. Johns Counties to ask about plans but we have not heard back.

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Born and raised in St. Petersburg. Proud grad of Lakewood High School and North Carolina A&T State University (Aggie Pride!).