Peninsula nurses launch pilot program to get COVID-19 vaccine to homebound seniors

David Louie Image
ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Thursday, April 8, 2021
New pilot program to vaccinate homebound Peninsula seniors
For more than a year, this very vulnerable part of the population has felt invisible. Now, many are getting the help they need, thanks to nurses at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- The vaccine rollout in the Bay Area raised concerns of equity when some of the communities with the highest infection rates were having difficulty getting the vaccines.

One group that was seemingly invisible throughout is homebound seniors, who are unable to go to event sites. They are forgotten no more. A pilot program to vaccinate them got underway today on the Peninsula.

RELATED: South Bay launches separate mobile vaccine efforts to reach housebound residents

This team from Sequoia Hospital's Health & Wellness Center is on a mission. They're going out with a vial of Pfizer vaccine to inoculate homebound seniors, who are perhaps the most invisible group of patients in need.

"These have been people that have not been able to get vaccines yet, and they're very vulnerable because they're homebound," said Marie Violet, director of the Sequoia Health & Wellness Center in Redwood City.

The six patients to be visited range in age from 85 to 99. They were identified by Sequoia's community partners, such as Meals on Wheels, who recognized their isolation.

VIDEO: White House weighs in on requiring COVID-19 'vaccine passports'

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday the administration would not require people to carry vaccine passports but we could still see private companies enforce this.

The challenge is that making home visits goes much slower than a mass vaccination event. The vial of Pfizer vaccine has to be used within a limited time due to its temperature requirements.

"Given that you have with Pfizer that six hour window, we need to be sure that we can get from place to place, and stay as long as needed and be able to use all the doses," said Marie Violet.

Because of their homebound status, we weren't able to join the vaccination team inside or to interview the patients. However, we're told the reaction to the process was typical.

"Oh, that was it?"

Maria Perez, part of the mobile nursing team, said the seniors were pleasantly surprised the injection didn't hurt.

VACCINE TRACKER: Here's how CA is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine

"They didn't feel a thing, and they're happy that they're able to complete their first dose today, and they're looking forward to their second dose," Perez said.

Caregivers for the homebound seniors were also offered vaccinations.

The pilot program by Sequoia Hospital is changing lives for elders, whose loved ones have been unable to visit with them for more than a year.

"She was in tears and just saying, 'I have just been locked in here. Nobody would come in. We're so afraid, and this is just going to be life-changing,'" said Marie Violet. "So it's great to be part of this."

Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.