CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Chesterfield County is launching a program through their fire and EMS divisions to help get vaccines into the arms of their most vulnerable citizens.
Homebound seniors can now sign up to have paramedics drive to their homes to administer the shot(s) there.
"We believe that every person that’s eligible for a vaccine should be able to receive that vaccine," said Deputy EMS Director, Captain Chad Vaughan.
Vaughan and Operational Medical Director Dr. Allen Yee are overseeing the program.
Yee said as the Fire and EMS Department have worked to vaccinate thousands of people, they've identified a need.
"As we’re ramping up vaccine efforts, we’re getting calls from loved ones from patients saying I can’t get to a pod I’m bedbound. What do I do?" said Yee.
Vaughan said the solution has already been in the works.
"So, we kind of thought, if we can vaccinate our own firefighters and EMS providers inside their fire stations before getting off -- mobile -- by getting some individuals in a vehicle going out to these stations and doing it, why couldn’t we also do that for out bedbound residents within the county?" Vaughan said.
The answer to that question -- he added -- was that they, indeed, could -- even amidst challenges.
"There’s a time limit on how long we can have vaccines out of the vile," said Yee. "Once it’s out of a vile we only have six hours to use it. So we’ll get enough we need for the day, and the men and women in the unit will actually drive to people’s homes and vaccinate."
Starting last week, Chesterfield Fire and EMS began partnering with private and public health groups to identify homebound seniors looking to get vaccinated.
Some of the patients were familiar faces, already being assisted through Chesterfield Fire’s Mobile Integrated Healthcare Unit. They’re patients who frequently dial 911.
"Sometimes when these frequent calls happen, we try to dig down deeper into what is the actual cause of the frequency of these incidents," said Vaughan. "Some of them might need chair rails. Some of them might need handrails in the bathroom. Some of them might need ramps to get in and outside of their homes."
The MIH Unit works to solve that need long term, and now they're taking it a step further -- using this program to identify seniors in need.
"Now we’re taking it a step further with the COVID vaccines. We figured we’ve already been doing this, let’s continue on," Vaughan said.
Chesterfield seniors who can't leave their homes, can sign up to get vaccinated at home by emailing bedboundvax@Chesterfield.gov.
Vaughan said the email was live, and they would be checking it to determine who to assist next.
"Our goal is that everyone in Chesterfield County who wants to have a vaccine, who's eligible to get a vaccine, will be vaccinated," said Yee