The Palo Alto Fire Department is teaming up with Santa Clara County health officials to provide in-home COVID-19 vaccinations to Palo Alto residents, immunizing those who would otherwise struggle to make it to a vaccination site.
The partnership, announced Wednesday, is narrowly focused on providing vaccinations to homebound residents with tight eligibility requirements. Patients must meet the federal Medicare definition of homebound, meaning they cannot leave home due to a medical condition or disability and — if they do leave home — it would require "considerable and taxing" effort and assistance.
Examples include residents who need crutches, a cane or a wheelchair to get around due to an injury or illness, or who have a condition where leaving home could be medically harmful.
Under the program, Palo Alto fire personnel will be among those doing house calls for vaccinations, including EMTs and paramedics. Similar to traditional vaccination sites, staff will stay at the home for 15 or 30 minutes to observe patients for signs of an allergic reaction. Though eligibility is fairly strict, any other household members ages 12 and older can also request to be vaccinated alongside the homebound resident.
City officials emphasized in a statement that it does not run the program, and that appointments must be made through the county. Appointments can be made through the county's in-home vaccination webpage or by calling 408-970-2818.
The in-home vaccination program began in earnest in spring last year, with the Santa Clara County Fire Department and the San Jose Fire Department both providing staff to make home visits. The effort is distinct from the mobile vaccination program, which has largely served schools and communities with low vaccination rates.