Editor's Note: The following story was written in response to a reader question submitted through our Open Source forum.
MANSFIELD -- The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to any Ohioan 18 or older, but options are limited for homebound individuals.
“I am a shut in. Are there any nurses that come to homes to give the vaccine?” one reader asked us.
We reached out to health departments in Richland, Ashland, Knox and Crawford counties. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find a provider that is administering vaccines in homes.
“I had a discussion about this and at this point we don't have plans to vaccinate the homebound,” said Reed Richmond of Richland Public Health. “Our advice for people wondering about their homebound mother or father is for anyone who is visiting them to get their own vaccines first in order to protect them.”
Nicole Williams, vice president of marketing and development at the Area Agency on Aging, said the agency has been urging the Ohio Department of Health to come up with a strategy for vaccinating the homebound. The department of health has released a guidance sheet on transporting the vaccine to homebound Ohioans, but has not released a plan.
“Some other counties have started to do homebound folks, we’re just not there yet,” she said. “It’s definitely something that's been on our mind and something we’ve been advocating for.”
Alicia Shoults of the Ohio Department of Health said that some local health departments in Ohio have partnered with emergency medical services (EMS) to vaccinate individuals in their homes; but providing transportation to appointments and holding drive-thru clinics are more common solutions.
The Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging will host a mass vaccination clinic on April 8 at the Hawkins Corner office located at 2131 Park Avenue West in Ontario from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vaccinations will be given in a drive thru style. Appointments can be made by calling 419-524-4144.
Third Street Family Health Services is offering drive-thru vaccination clinics on April 17 and May 15. Anyone interested can call 567-309-7188 to make an appointment.
The Galion City Health Department has in-car vaccination available at each of its clinics, health commissioner Trish Factor said. Any Ohio resident is eligible to receive their vaccine through the health department; they do not have to be a Galion or Crawford County resident. Individuals can register by filling out this online form. Afterwards, the Galion Health Department will contact them to set up a time.
The Area Agency on Aging can help seniors schedule an appointment with various local providers. The agency can also provide those 60 and older with transportation to a vaccination appointment if necessary.
For help scheduling an appointment or to arrange transportation, call 567-247-6503. If you have already scheduled a vaccination but still need transportation, you can also call 419-524-4144.
Residents can also call 1-866-395-1588 to schedule an appointment through Richland Public Health.
Shoults said that the state is planning to hold pop-up clinics in more remote communities in the future.
"The state of Ohio is deploying a mobile vaccine strategy, in which we are planning use Johnson & Johnson to reduce potential barriers to vaccine access, and meet people where they are," Shoults said. "This week, mobile vaccine clinics are launching in different parts of the state alongside regional mass vaccination clinics. Transportation assistance is available for many of the regional mass vaccination clinics."