Cabarrus, Gaston Counties Bring COVID-19 Vaccines To Homebound Residents
Henry Crowder sat on a chair next to the bed in his Concord home on Friday morning as Ann Coffey, a paramedic with Cabarrus County, cleaned his left upper arm with an alcohol prep pad.
“Wait a minute, let me see how long that thing is on there,” Crowder said, anxiously craning to see the size of the COVID-19 vaccine syringe. “Oh boy!”
“Are you going for an Academy Award?” Coffey asked the 79-year-old jokingly before quickly administering Crowder’s first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. “You’re good. That’s it.”
Crowder is afraid of needles. He also has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, a condition that puts him at higher risk of becoming seriously ill if he contracts the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And Crowder can’t drive — so a trip to the doctor’s office or a mass vaccination clinic would require help from friends or neighbors.
Crowder and Coffey are part of a program the Cabarrus Health Alliance launched this week in partnership with Cabarrus County Emergency Medical Services. It’s aimed at vaccinating residents in the county who can’t leave their homes because of a disability, compromised immune system or illness. Four of the county’s paramedics will administer COVID-19 vaccine doses to roughly 15 homebound residents each Friday.
“It’s been really interesting — and truthfully, fun — to contact these people and let them know they have an option to receive the vaccines in their home,” said Jimmy Lentz, chief of Cabarrus County EMS.
Lentz said the county does not have an estimate for how many residents are homebound.
Gaston County has started a similar program, according to county spokesman Adam Gaub. Gaston Emergency Medical Services plans to use some of the 1,200 Johnson & Johnson vaccines it has received to target homeless and homebound residents "over the next 10 days," Gaub said in an email on Thursday. The county will identify those who are confined to their homes in part by working with the Meals on Wheels program.
“We’ve identified at least 850 individuals that are known or presumed to be homebound (in Gaston County),” Gaub said.
Back in Concord, Crowder and Coffey scheduled his second dose appointment for a few weeks later.
“If somebody’s gonna give you a shot, you’d better take it,” Crowder said.