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Florida’s homebound residents have more shots on the way

The state has vaccinated more than 1,500 homebound seniors and residents and plans to grow that number as supply increases.
Florida Department of Health medical workers prepare to give seniors a COVID-19 vaccination in the parking lot of the Gulf View Square Mall in New Port Richey.
Florida Department of Health medical workers prepare to give seniors a COVID-19 vaccination in the parking lot of the Gulf View Square Mall in New Port Richey. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Mar. 15
Updated Apr. 8

Florida will expand its program to vaccinate homebound residents over the coming weeks, rolling out doses to 2,000 more seniors and vulnerable individuals over the coming weeks, according to the state.

The news follows Gov. Ron DeSantis’s announcement via Twitter last week that the state had completed its pilot program to vaccinate 1,500 homebound Floridians, as he promised at a February press conference.

As of Tuesday, the state had administered shots to 1,561 homebound people, wrote Samantha Bequer, spokeswoman for the Florida Division of Emergency Management in an email. The state will expand the program as more vaccine becomes available, she wrote.

The state had vaccinated more than 4 million people as of Sunday, including about 2.9 million people 65 and older, according to Florida Department of Health data.

The vaccines in the state program are administered to homebound residents inside their homes by strike teams of state workers and local fire-rescue and paramedic teams, the Tampa Bay Times reported on Feb. 5. The department has been working with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and the Area Agencies on Aging to identify seniors for the program, and has added door-to-door canvassing to its locating process, Bequer wrote.

Related: DeSantis to start vaccinating Florida’s homebound seniors

“Outreach teams in Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami are visiting underserved populations to provide individuals with information regarding the federally-supported vaccination sites in their areas and as a part of this outreach, the teams also identify homebound individuals who have not yet received the vaccine,” she wrote. “If an individual indicates that they are homebound and interested in receiving the vaccine, the staff will include them on the state’s list to vaccinate through the homebound program.”

The effort followed calls from advocates for more outreach to homebound individuals who might not feel safe leaving their homes to get shots, as well as those who cannot drive or who cannot leave home for long periods of time, the Times reported in February.

Related: Tampa Bay’s homebound seniors struggle to get coronavirus vaccinations

“AARP applauds the state’s efforts to proactively register homebound individuals,” wrote Jeff Johnson, state director for AARP in a press release. “Late last week, Florida invited homebound individuals and their caregivers to sign up through email to receive vaccinations in their home. This is wonderful news for many vulnerable homebound Floridians without access to transportation.”

Those seeking vaccinations for homebound people should email HomeboundVaccine@em.myflorida.com to register for shots or for more information, according to the governor’s announcement.

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