CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine pause isn’t just affecting clinics and mass vaccination sites in Northeast Ohio. It’s also created a roadblock for some county health programs that help vaccinate homebound residents.
Stacey Bene is co-founder of “Vaccine Queens.” She and Marla Zwinggi volunteer their time to help Northeast Ohio residents get vaccinated by helping people find appointments or, in some cases helping get the vaccine to come right to the people.
“We’ve gotten more and more people reaching out with stories of people who are confined to their homes who really need to get vaccinated,” Bene told 19 News.
Around two million Americans are homebound, meaning they rarely or never leave their house. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of them fall into priority groups for getting the COVID-19 vaccine. But, many who should have been vaccinated first have yet to get a single dose since it’s not as easy for them to make it to a vaccination appointment.
As a result, Bene said she and Zwinggi reached out to Drug Mart for help with homebound vaccinations in the Northeast Ohio area, and they came to the rescue. Bene said, so far, Drug Mart and the “Vaccine Queens” have helped get nearly 20 local homebound residents vaccinated.
County health programs in Northeast Ohio have also been providing homebound vaccinations, but many have relied on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine since it requires only one dose and is, therefore, easier of a task to make house calls. After Tuesday’s announcement by the CDC and Food and Drug Administration recommending a pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine use, many of these health programs had to switch gears.
Kevin Brennan with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health tells 19 News that the county has switched to using the Pfizer vaccine in regards to homebound vaccination visits. Brennan said that while the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, the county will not need additional resources to make this change.