'I am very, very happy to get it,' homebound Redford Twp. woman says of COVID-19 vaccine
Connie Davis says she wants to live as long as she's supposed to and the 93-year-old doesn't want anything to take her out sooner, including the novel coronavirus.
"That coronavirus. That's a life-death situation," she said. "I don't know why people don't want (a COVID-19 vaccine). That's crazy. I think everyone who gets it, they're doing themselves and others a favor. They're helping themselves and others."
On Wednesday, less than a week after Davis was featured in a Free Press story about homebound seniors wanting COVID-19 vaccines but not being able to travel to get them, she got her first dose of the Moderna vaccine in her Redford Township home.
"I am very, very happy to get it," Davis said Friday, adding that she hopes she can visit with her grandchildren in the spring. "I don't want to give my children anything that will hurt them. I don't want to give anyone anything that will hurt them. I don't want no one to get sick."
Davis was able to get her first shot after Kathy Bronikowski, executive director of home health care for Henry Ford Health System, saw the story March 12 detailing how Davis had received emails from the health system indicating she was eligible for a vaccine.
But Davis' daughter, Edith Jones, said her mother, who has a traveling doctor, nurse, physical therapist and two caretakers who come to her home to tend to her medical needs, can't get out to receive a vaccine.
Bronikowski reached out to Jones, who lives in Georgia and takes care of her mother's health care issues from a distance. Jones said Bronikowski called her "literally within hours" after the story ran.
"That was wonderful," Jones said, adding that her mother "was thrilled" with the news that she would be able to get a vaccine in her home. "We're ecstatic of her getting her shot."
Bronikowski said the health system began vaccinations for homebound members in January and have administered about 1,800 doses. Homebound would include those who are bedfast or wheelchair-bound and have great difficulty leaving their homes and need ambulatory service or special transportation to get to a vaccine clinic. Most of them are seniors.
"It's very, very difficult for them to leave the home," Bronikowski said.
She said Davis and nine other people in the area received vaccines that day as there are 10 doses in each Moderna vial — doses that must be used within six hours. Davis said a couple of her neighbors were vaccinated.
Bronikowski said it's important for these individuals to be vaccinated because they are even more isolated.
"Family and friends feel they can't visit them because they're not vaccinated yet, even if the family is vaccinated," she said. "They often feel alone because they can't get out to community or church activities because they are wheelchair-bound or bedfast or their illness makes them even weaker, more compromised to illness. We want to protect them."
Local and state officials said about 100,000 people in Michigan fall into the homebound category, according to a preliminary estimate using data from the state's Aging and Adult Services Agency and the Medical Services Administration, which administers the Medicaid program. They said they are working on ways to get the potentially lifesaving vaccines to this vulnerable population.
State health department spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin previously told the Free Press that several local health departments were providing vaccines to homebound individuals or partnering with EMS or home health nurses to reach this population. The state also was working on a comprehensive plan to deliver the vaccines to homebound individuals in partnership with local health departments.
Sutfin said providers, including local health departments, can visit these individuals in their homes to provide vaccinations.
"There are guidelines for transportation of the vaccines," she said. "This is very complex and varies by vaccine."
Sutfin said Michigan licensed emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics can administer vaccinations.
Oakland County Health Division announced earlier this month that it is partnering with Ready Nursing Solutions, a medical staffing agency, to help it administer shots to homebound seniors and others.
The Detroit Health Department was exploring ways to reach homebound Detroiters at a higher risk for the virus because of age, illness or both. It was looking at potential partnerships that could include the use of mobile clinics, said Denise Fair, the city's public health officer.
Local officials in Wayne and Macomb counties said the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine may help reach homebound seniors in those communities.
In the Upper Peninsula, between 50 and 60 homebound residents have been vaccinated by the LMAS District Health Department, which serves Luce, Mackinac, Alger and Schoolcraft counties, spokeswoman Kerry Ott said.
She said when a supply of 500 Johnson & Johnson vaccines arrived earlier this month, it made the process of inoculating homebound residents easier.
With the one-shot vaccine, nurses have to canvass a 4,007-square-mile service area only once to administer the vaccines. Some nurses went out on Saturdays and Sundays to get shots in arms, she said.
Ott said most of those who were homebound were seniors, but a few were adults with disabilities. A couple of caretaker spouses also were vaccinated, she said.
Ott said on Thursday a nurse drove to Grand Marais on the tip of Alger County on Lake Superior to vaccinate a homebound person with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That one vaccine led to calls in which 13 others who hadn't been inoculated yet were able to get a vaccine.
Ott said word spread fast in the small town, and the township supervisor opened the town hall and, in the end, 30 people were vaccinated in that one trip.
"That was just really awesome that they didn't have to travel an hour or more to get that vaccine and it made our nurse's trip more productive," Ott said, adding that the nurse knew Grand Marais and took extra vaccines with her. "And it turned out perfect. ... They were just thrilled to get that."
Downstate, Davis said she couldn't be happier that Bronikowski reached out and made it possible for her to get vaccinated. The retired educator with Detroit public schools said she is set to get her second shot in April.
Davis said the first shot was "nothin' to be upset over. It's just a vaccine like any other. I just feel normal."
"I have people taking care of me. I have my grandchildren," she said. "God's been good to me."
Contact Christina Hall: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.
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