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Covid-19 shots now offered at home

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Seniors and homebound residents can have Covid-19 vaccines administered to them in their homes after Town of Hempstead officials introduced the vaccine service in Bellmore last Friday.

Town Medical Director Dave Neubert and members of the town’s Emergency Medical Services squad injected the program’s first shot into the arm of a patient, Marianne Plunkett, who lives in the Bellmore Gardens senior housing complex, to kick off the program.

Those in need of a vaccine, or those who know of friends, family members or neighbors who need it, can call the town’s Covid-19 vaccine hotline at (516) 812-3678 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The patient will be placed on a list before receiving a call from the town’s EMS squad.

“What we’re initiating here today is really moving us towards the end game,” said Town Supervisor Don Clavin, alongside several Town Board members and other officials. “This is what’s going to get us past this pandemic.”

Town EMS squads will use special equipment to transport the vaccines to residents’ homes, similar to the way vaccines are transported in the town’s Vaxmobile program.

“It’s nice to have great [vaccination programs] at the beaches that people can drive through, but what if somebody doesn’t have a car?” Clavin asked. “It’s great to do it at a community center, but what if the person can’t get there? And what if the person doesn’t feel comfortable coming out?” He added that this is one of the first such programs run by a town in the country, calling it “a game-changer.”

“This gives us the chance to go everywhere, find out where we’re needed and just continue with the public health efforts that we’ve been doing,” Neubert said. “I’m a firm believer, especially after this pandemic, that public health is truly the way that government is here helping our community, our friends and family and our citizens — that’s what we should be doing.”

“We work as a team,” Councilman Bruce Blakeman said. “We kicked around a lot of ideas during the pandemic — we talked about food pantries, vaccines, testing sites — and one of the problems that came up a lot was that we started to get calls from people who were too old to be able to go to a vaccination site.”

The home visits — which were likened to at-home doctor visits of years past by Clavin — will be made by EMS staff, who are directed by Neubert. They will use a small freezer for the doses and a sterile kit to transport the needed tools.

Clavin indicated that a patient does not necessarily need to be home-bound to receive a dose through the program.

“It’s not just for home-bound [residents] — if there are needs in other places, we can go into Hempstead, Uniondale or senior centers and churches,” Neubert said. “Those are the kind of venues we’ll be able to get out to.”

Clavin and Neubert estimated that there are still thousands of homebound seniors who still have not been vaccinated.

“We’re going to keep doing it until there’s no more arms left to put vaccines in,” Neubert said.