Health Department’s Award-Winning Program Still Up & Running
The Hamilton County Health Department is encouraging Homebound Hoosiers to schedule their COVID-19 boosters – especially as highly-contagious variants threaten a resurgence in new cases this holiday season.
“We’re calling and following up with people who had us out to administer their initial vaccines,” says Melissa L. Ackerman, head of the Hamilton County Health Department’s Homebound Hoosier Program. “Our vaccine supply is much better than it once was, so we can now offer patients their choice of vaccine and we can administer to anyone in the home five years of age and older.”
The State Health Department launched the Homebound Hoosiers Program in March 2021 in an effort to provide vaccines to at-risk, hard to reach, and immobile residents. The Hamilton County Health Department partnered with paramedics at the Carmel, Noblesville, and Westfield Fire Departments to complete 410 runs in the first year of the program, vaccinating more Homebound Hoosiers than any other county in the state.
“This program doesn’t happen without the fire departments,” Ackerman says. “They are the boots on the ground. Our nurses prep the vaccines, and the paramedics pick them up twice a week to deliver and administer them. It runs like clockwork.”
But that wasn’t always the case. When the program first rolled out few, if any, local health departments had ever provided this service. Ackerman worked tirelessly to build a program from scratch on Microsoft Teams that allowed the health and fire departments to manage calls and share information in real time. As a result, the Indiana Immunization Coalition recognized Ackerman and James Macky, Division Chief of Emergency Medical Services at the Noblesville Fire Department, with its High Flyer Award.
“There are so many unsung heroes working behind the scenes to make this happen,” says Macky. “Our EMS agencies couldn’t do what they do if it weren’t for the nurses that cross reference our data and tirelessly manage the vaccine program. We’re thrilled to be part of such a remarkable collaboration.”
Hamilton County is just one of a few counties still offering the Homebound Hoosiers Program and will continue to do so for as long as funding and staff are available. Homebound residents interested in a COVID-19 vaccine or booster can schedule an in-home vaccination by calling the Hamilton County Health Department at 317-776-8500.