AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health has launched a partnership with Meals on Wheels Central Texas to vaccinate vulnerable, homebound seniors.
“We need to meet people where they are,” said APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard. “With a pandemic, government agencies have to be more flexible with their operations than ever before, and we have to continue our holistic approach from large-scale vaccine operations to community partnerships with the Mobile Vaccine Program.”
APH worked with the nonprofit to identify its “most frail and medically-compromised clients” for the first round of COVID-19 vaccines. On Monday, they were able to reach 66 of those people.
“Now, I feel a little bit safer,” said Pam Morgan, a Meals on Wheels client who received her first shot on her front porch.
Morgan turns 73 years old this week and is also a caretaker for her husband, so she’s been taking quarantine extremely seriously.
“I haven’t been to a grocery store in maybe eight months? I’m scared… I’m scared to get sick. A lot of our friends have passed away from the COVID [virus],” she said.
“The homebound older adults we serve at Meals on Wheels Central Texas are at greater risk of severe COVID-19 complications. This is why we believe it is critical that they have access to vaccines as soon as possible,” President and CEO of Meals on Wheels Central Texas Adam Hauser said in a news release about the program.
The Mobile Vaccination Program has the capacity to vaccinate up to 400 people a week, through Meals on Wheels and their other partners such as the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA), plus other assisted living and independent living residential properties for seniors.
Before Monday, APH had already vaccinated 1,051 people, primarily through distributions to residents at HACA properties.
“APH will determine how much it will allocate as supply remains limited,” the news release said.
Spouses and caregivers will also receive shots through the program if they qualify under the Phase 1B or 1C guidelines from the state. Still, Hayden-Howard explained the goal would be to eventually expand the program even further for multi-generational households.
“So it may be the grandma, and it may be the mom and her kids, her adult kids,” she said. “So we are able to do multiple people in that home setting. That works very well, especially when we have people who have disabilities, etc., it is really difficult for them to come over to a location like Delco — even though we know everything is ADA compliant, it makes things better when you are able to be at home.”