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Long Line Of Unvaccinated Homebound People Remains In Baltimore County

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch
Baltimore County
Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch

Fewer than 100 Baltimore County residents who are homebound have been fully vaccinated for COVID 19, despite the efforts of health officials who have been trying to reach the thousands of people who say they are homebound and remain unvaccinated.

The county began making house calls to people who can’t leave their homes in early March. The health department reports 98 are fully vaccinated.

“It’s not just us doing homebound,” County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch said. “We also have the state doing some homebound for us, too.”

Branch said the National Guard also is helping with distribution.

Elyn Garrett-Jones, a spokeswoman for the health department, said 182 homebound residents have received the first dose of the vaccine.

Homebound vaccinations are challenging. The vaccine has a limited shelf life and there is a lot of ground to cover in the county.

“We are definitely moving those numbers down very, very well as we are reaching out to people saying to them that we’re able to come to their home,” Branch said.

To be vaccinated at home, residents must sign up on the county’s vaccine registry and have a letter from their physician confirming they are homebound.

Garrett-Jones said they are screening people to make sure they qualify. Some who say on the registry that they are homebound turn out not to be.

In January, WYPR interviewed Catonsville resident Carbra McDonnell, who is caring for his wife at home. She has Alzheimer’s as well as Parkinson’s Disease. McDonnell was trying, without success, to get his wife vaccinated.

In an interview Thursday, McDonnell said his wife received her second Moderna vaccine from the county’s mobile unit last week.

“It’s an RN and an EMT and they come to the house,” McDonnell said. “It’s an ambulance, but they just drive up. It went very smoothly,”

McDonnell lobbied to get his wife vaccinated as soon as possible, including dropping by his local fire department, and contacting both his state legislator, Democratic Delegate Pat Young, and his county councilman, Democrat Tom Quirk.

“You really just have to push for things,” McDonnell said. “And sometimes the portal will open up and sometimes it won’t, but I was just lucky.”

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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