Indiana continues to make progress in vaccinating homebound Hoosiers for COVID-19 through a whole-community approach to reaching vulnerable residents.

The Homebound Hoosiers vaccination program is helping communities across the state by identifying residents who are unable to leave their homes and utilizing the vast EMS network to visit and administer vaccines. Participants in the program must meet current eligibility requirements, but they also are physically unable to visit a vaccination clinic or do not have family or friends to help them register and travel to a site.

To address this gap, the Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging (operating in 16 regions in Indiana), the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), Indiana Department of Homeland Security and Indiana Department of Health are registering these people separately and directing resources to ensure they are prioritized for vaccination. Any available vaccines in those communities are then routed to a participating EMS agency to visit the home, administer the vaccine and monitor for any adverse reactions.

“The EMS system is the perfect partner for this program because it operates 24/7 across Indiana,” said Dr. Michael Kaufmann, medical director for Indiana EMS. “EMS personnel are highly trained members of the community and can serve an important role in reaching this critical population of Hoosiers.”

As of Wednesday, more than 1,200 Indiana residents have been registered in the Homebound Hoosiers portal.

To get on the list for in-home vaccinations, please contact your local Area Agency on Aging by calling 800-986-3505 or visit the AAA regional map for contact information. A resident is eligible if he/she meets other requirements, needs special transportation or assistance to leave the home or has a medical condition that prohibits leaving the home.

The rate of in-home vaccinations will increase once vaccination supplies increase in the coming weeks. In addition, EMS agencies are working to identify personnel to administer vaccines to the homebound in addition to their regular emergency response duties.

The Homebound Hoosier program has gained regional and national attention as a model for success in vaccinating homebound residents. FEMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have contacted the IDHS, which includes Indiana EMS, to discuss the program and how to mimic it in other states.

“Nothing to do with this pandemic fits into a nice, neat box. We’ve had to be nimble and creative to approach this vaccination effort as quickly and strategically as possible,” said Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, secretary for FSSA.

“This partnership to vaccinate the homebound population is another community solution to an important gap we’ve identified along this journey,” Sullivan added.

The program continues the ongoing commitment by Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb to community paramedicine, a national initiative designed to improve access to care and to avoid duplicating existing healthcare services. The paramedicine concept is built around the idea that EMS providers, those treating and seeing patients every day in the field, are well-equipped to provide preventative care, connect patients to resources and better connect them to quality healthcare options.