HARRISBURG -- Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam earlier this week ordered vaccine providers to work with Area Agencies on Aging to identify homebound residents and get them access to COVID-19 immunizations.

“Pennsylvanians who cannot leave their homes face unique challenges when it comes to vaccine access,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “We’re all working together to reach out to this population that can be hard to pinpoint ... We are committed to finding every way to reach Pennsylvanians who cannot leave their homes and give them equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Aging Secretary Robert Torres pointed to examples of county agencies that have already worked to tackle the problem of connecting home-bound individuals with vaccinations.

Beam wanted to providers to begin working to identify those needing immunizations by Friday.

Butler and Indiana counties have been working with local health systems and visiting nurse groups to vaccinate those who can’t travel to vaccination clinics.

Delaware County has been using three teams of EMTs to reach home-bound individuals, he said. And Pike County has been using volunteers who deliver meals to identify people who are homebound and need vaccinations, he said.

“We’re committed to reaching each and every senior who wants vaccine,” Torres said.

The move comes as the state Department of Health announced that more than 8 million doses of COVID vaccine have been administered. That includes immunizations for more than 3.4 million people considered fully vaccinated.

The effort to coordinate to identify and vaccinate people who can’t get out to attend vaccination clinics is key to ensuring that vaccinations are provided equitably, said Acting Secretary of Human Services Meg Snead.

“These partnerships break down barriers for seniors, adults with disabilities, and others in our Medical Assistance system who are high-risk and cannot leave their homes, many of whom are lower-income or people of color. This direct outreach and coordination are essential for an equitable vaccination process and will help us save lives," Snead said.

Snead said that state data shows that there are about 3,300 homebound people enrolled in the Healthchoice managed care organization that serves on Medicaid.

John Finnerty reports from the Harrisburg Bureau for The Meadville Tribune and other Pennsylvania newspapers owned by CNHI. Email him at jfinnerty@cnhi.com and follow him on Twitter @cnhipa.

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