The state of Delaware has created a toll-free phone number that residents who can’t travel because of disability, age or several illness can call to arrange for a COVID-19 vaccination or booster shot at home.
The Department of Health and Social Services is partnering with independent pharmacies in each county to deliver the vaccinations to eligible Delawareans 5 and older.
Participating pharmacies include Ivira Pharmacy in Wilmington and Milford, Camden Pharmacy, Seaford Pharmacy and Express Pharmacy in Laurel.
The state also is launching a campaign to encourage people with disabilities, their families and seniors to be vaccinated to avoid serious illness or death because COVID-19.
State hospitals are once again filling up with COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday, the state said 325 people were hospitalized because of it. Right now, the state said, those cases are caused by the Delta variant.
However, national public health officials and agencies are warning that the much-more-infectious Omicron variant is about to explode in the U.S. and its spread will be quick but not as severe. Already, cases have been reported in 33 states, including New York and New Jersey, but not yet in Delaware.
People with disabilities and seniors are at higher risk for serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. In Delaware, about 80% of the 2,218 people who have died from COVID-19 were 65 or older.
The state’s new homebound vaccine number – 1-888-491-4988 – will go into effect on Wednesday. Live operators will staff it from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. They will assess calls.
“One of the many lessons we’ve learned during the 21 months of this pandemic is that we have to meet communities where they are,” DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik said in a press release. “Today’s announcement is about meeting seniors, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers where they are. It’s about supporting them in getting access to the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters, and it’s about ensuring that we can answer the unique questions that seniors and people with disabilities have about the vaccine.”
Earlier this year, in the first phase of its Homebound Vaccination Program, nurses worked with community partners, including DART Paratransit, to identify and vaccinate more than 500 Delawareans who are homebound.
“We are excited because it features Delawareans telling their own stories in print and video messages in order to help others feel comfortable about reaching out with questions and any accommodations they might need to get the vaccine,” said Melissa Smith, director of the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities.
people with disabilities and seniors are at high risk for serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. In Delaware, about 80% of the 2,218 people who have died from COVID-19 were 65 or older.
While Delaware does not have data on the percentage of people with disabilities who are vaccinated, about 79% of American adults with disabilities have reported receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, compared with 84% of adults without a disability, according to a U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey.
A CDC study, published in October, found that adults with a disability anticipate or experience more difficulty getting COVID-19 vaccinations than adults without a disability.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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