WILMINGTON — Homebound Delawareans can now request COVID-19 vaccinations through a new toll-free number, the Delaware Division of Health and Social Services announced on Tuesday.
DHSS will work with independent pharmacies in each county to deliver the vaccinations to eligible Delawareans 5 and older as part of its homebound vaccination program. The program was announced at an event at one of the independent pharmacies, Ivira Pharmacy in Wilmington. Other participating pharmacies are Ivira Pharmacy’s location in Milford, Camden Pharmacy, Seaford Pharmacy and Express Pharmacy in Laurel.
All requests for a homebound vaccination or booster will be filtered through the toll-free number, 1-888-491-4988, to be assessed and scheduled. Live operators will staff the toll-free line from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. More information is available here.
The program is meant for eligible seniors and people with disabilities who cannot access a vaccination location because of disability, age or severe illness.
“We really want to make sure persons take advantage of this remarkable service,” Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long said. “Our most at risk populations, persons with disabilities and our senior population, need to have access.”
Benjamin Shrader, a vaccine campaign advocate from Wilmington, was on hand Tuesday as the program was unveiled.
Mr. Shrader, who has cerebral palsy which can make traveling a challenge, said the vaccine isn’t just an instrument of health. It is also an instrument of liberation.
“Not just liberation for me as an individual, to go see “Spider-Man” this weekend, although it is that,” he said. “But it’s an instrument of liberation for people around me. My little sister, who missed her entire freshman year of high school with the softball team. When I got my shot and booster, she could have peace of mind to go out with her friends again. Or my dad, who is in the medical field, he could have peace of mind to both care for his patients and for his family.”
While officials from DHSS said data for what percentage of Delawareans with disabilities have already been vaccinated is unknown at this time, it said it has done more than 500 COVID-19 vaccinations to homebound individuals since the start of the state’s vaccine rollout.
This was during the first phase of DHSS’ homebound vaccination program. The state worked with community nurses from the Division of Public Health and Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, along with contract nurses with the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, community partners, including DART Paratransit, to identify and vaccinate these homebound individuals.
As part of the next phase, DHSS will also launch a marketing campaign aimed at encouraging individuals with disabilities, their families and seniors to call the Division of Public Health at 1-833-643-1715 if they have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine or to visit DHSS’ web page for information and resources.
As part of the campaign, seniors, individuals with disabilities and their family members talked about what getting the COVID-19 vaccine has meant to them. The campaign is funded through grants from the U.S. Administration for Community Living.
Nationally, 79% of adults with disabilities have reported receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re looking to do better and hope that our campaign is successful in reaching this vulnerable population,” said DSAAPD director Melissa Smith. “One of the best ways we can improve these numbers and to get more people vaccinated and boosted is to use the images and voices of Delawareans who have already been vaccinated. Our campaign is exciting because it features Delawareans telling their own stories.”
More than 90% of Delaware seniors are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — 91.8% of those 65 years old and older, according to DPH’s vaccine tracker. Meanwhile, 55.9% of seniors have received their booster dose.
Those who spoke at the event said they want to see these numbers get even higher.
“As we grow older it’s important to know our immune system weakens and it becomes more difficult to fight infections,” said State Rep. Stephanie T. Boulden. “Whether we like it or not, many people 65 years old and older are more likely to get the virus. A lot of people still have preexisting conditions. So getting vaccinated is especially important.”