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Requirements Established for County In-Home Vaccination Plans

On May 4, the state Department of Health (DOH) and state Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) sent a joint letter to county leaders that asks each county and local health department to develop an in-home vaccination plan.

The plan is to be inclusive of all relevant county departments as well as other providers of home care services within the county.

It must also: employ mechanisms to identify those needing an in-home vaccine, clearly identify a single point of contact for assisting homebound individuals in getting vaccinated, and employ multi-systems outreach and education.

Late yesterday, HCA was briefed on this new development by DOH and NYSOFA.

The guidance also has guidelines and best-practices for counties to conduct vaccinations of homebound persons.

Steps for Counties to Coordinate and Conduct In-Home Vaccinations

Every county must first identify a single point of entry for homebound individuals to sign up for or request an in-home COVID-19 vaccine. DOH recommends that this single point of entry be a hotline number established by the county that homebound persons can call to get information on COVID-19 vaccine and to sign-up for a vaccination.

Such information and any eligibility criteria may also be posted on the county’s website or website of the local health department.

Counties should work with their Emergency Management Agency and survey their vendors and other contractors to help identify homebound persons. Each county is strongly encouraged to develop a written “In-Home Vaccination Plan.” The letter includes a template for this purpose.

Options for Counties Conducting In-Home Vaccinations

There are a variety of ways counties may construct vaccination of homebound individuals.

DOH and NYSOFA have identified the following options based on feedback from counties:

  • Use nursing staff of the county’s hospice or home care agency.
  • Partner with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies that have been designated as Community Paramedicine Programs to conduct in-home vaccinations.
  • Contract with a pharmacy partner.
  • Contract with or enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with another provider, such as a private medical group or private home care provider which is an enrolled provider eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine and has staff legally authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccines.

The letter includes guidelines for each of the above four options.

HCA has been very active in working with members who are vaccinating their own staff and patients. We developed a series of findings and recommendations that we have presented to state government officials. Some of those findings have been implemented by the state.

In addition, we have collaborated on vaccination of home care staff and patients with the regional vaccination hubs, state officials, counties, the New York State Association of County Health Officials, other provider associations, and other stakeholders.

Home care providers should read the DOH and NYSOFA guidelines carefully and reach out to their local health department and county office for the aging to discuss joint efforts to vaccinate patients.