Team delivers vaccines to homebound residents

David Arias, the project manager for Focus Point International, right, talks to Focus Point health professionals, from left: Shay Edwards, CNA, David Anderson, RN, Clay Hansen, RN, Kelli McCormack, LPN, and Alexis Armstead, CNA, about the home-bound COVID-19 vaccinations the health care company is giving to home-bound people in Marion County for the Florida Department of Health in Marion County, as they meet at Paddock Mall in Ocala, Fla. on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.
The Florida Department of Health in Marion County prides itself on the simplicity of setting up a vaccination appointment through its online system. Simply hop online, go to the online signup page, set up an appointment and then drive to the designated site.

But that last part isn’t an option for everyone in Marion County.

For those who are homebound and can’t get to a vaccination site, a vaccination team comes to them.

Retired dancer and actress Peggy Ann Collins, 89, took advantage of the service recently. A friend pushed her to get vaccinated and stayed by her side the whole time.

“I feel so relieved, I feel like that I’m prepared,” Collins said.

Collins saw her son Bill for the first time in six months following her vaccination.

“He was so happy to see me,” she said. “I kissed him all over. I moved the mask and I kissed him right in the mouth and I kissed on the forehead, the cheeks, the chin, his hand.”

Mark Lander, the local DOH administrator, noted that the community reaction to the outreach missions has been positive.

“I think it’s been very successful,” Lander said. “Just because there are individuals that cannot make it in to a site to be vaccinated.”

David Anderson, a registered nurse who has been assisting with these efforts, said vaccinating the homebound has been an incredible experience and reinforces why he became a nurse.

“Just knowing that people are getting vaccinated… you know the hope being that we can get back to some sense of normalcy again and with everybody beginning to get vaccinated and hopefully reach that herd immunity that we’re shooting for, and to know that even if I can be a teeny, tiny part of that, it’s an honor,” Anderson said. “I’m 57, and I’ve never done travel nursing like this. It’s been fantastic. I think the people I work with, this whole crew, everyone you see sitting here, is one of the best groups of people I’ve worked with, and I’ve been a nurse for 25 years.”

Lander also said that the county has switched to giving out Pfizer vaccines because of the national pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine after six cases of blood clots out of more than 6.8 million doses. The county didn’t have that many Johnson & Johnson doses to begin with – just 5.2% of Marion County residents who have completed a vaccine series have had Johnson & Johnson shots – and Lander said that everyone who had shots set up still received them.

“It hasn’t been a problem for us because 99% of our vaccines that we’re putting out are Pfizer,” he said. “We get very limited, very limited Johnson & Johnson, so it has not been a hindrance for us.”

Registration for a homebound vaccine visit is available through the online appointment portal or by emailing HomeboundVaccine@em.myflorida.com with a name and number or by calling 866-779-6121.

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