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Waco: City-County COVID vaccination plan to target homebound, homeless

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 10:35 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - City of Waco and McLennan County officials are coming up with a plan to vaccinate some of the most vulnerable populations: homebound seniors and the homeless.

“When people are either housing insecure or they have transportation insecurities or they have mobility issues, we have to take the resources to them, public health can’t be done inside this building, it has to be done out in the communities,” said LaShonda Malrey-Horne, Director of the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. “We’re hoping to find a partner, or ourselves, to get allocations of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine because, logistically, that will be the best and easiest way for us to get those populations vaccinated.”

During a Waco City Council workshop Tuesday, in addition to minorities, city and county officials made it clear they’re focusing some future vaccination efforts on the homeless and the homebound, but for different reasons.

“For our homebound seniors, they’re probably less likely to get infected because they’re not moving around and leaving home very often, but when they do get infected, the risk is much, much higher,” said Malrey-Horne. “For homeless populations, there’s always as high instance of diseases in those populations.”

She says they’ll be working with MHMR and the Salvation Army to help get the homeless population vaccinated.

“Because COVID-19 is an airborne virus, it’s really important to make sure that whenever homeless are having to shelter because of the weather or whatever the situation may be, they’re sheltering safely and able to keep themselves and others infected,” said Malrey-Horne.

As far as getting the homebound vaccinated, Malrey-Horne says they’ll be working with Meals on Wheels, which currently serves about 600 seniors in the county.

“They don’t always have the ability to have anyone get them out of their house, so I have been working on a plan with anyone who will listen,” said Debbie King, Director of Meals on Wheels Waco. “The county and the city have been listening, so now we’re trying to put together the idea of ‘how can we get them at home.’”

King says there’s high interest from their clients in getting vaccinated, but they face hurdles than others so it’s important they’re not left behind during the vaccination process.

“They don’t have the electronics to sign-up online, they don’t get how to make those phone calls, so we really want to help them by bringing it to them,” said King.

The details are still being ironed out, but health officials said Tuesday the biggest holdup was getting their hands on those single-dose vaccines.

“At this point, it’s a waiting game,” said Malrey-Horne.

For more information on vaccine allocation visit www.covidwaco.com.

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