On Feb. 12, Council on Aging (COA) staff assisted members of the Ohio National Guard in vaccinating over 300 at-risk older adults at three low-income senior apartment buildings in Hamilton County: Riverview Apartments, St. Francis Court Apartments and Beechwood Apartments. Similar clinics have been held in other parts of Ohio, but these were the first such clinics in southwestern Ohio.
In the weeks leading up the vaccination clinics, COA worked with the guard, the Cincinnati Health Department, the Ohio Department of Aging and management staff at the apartment buildings to prepare each building for the vaccination clinics.
A unique feature of the Hamilton County clinics versus clinics held elsewhere in the state is that older adults from nearby senior apartment buildings were bused to the three clinic locations to get vaccinated. COA worked with the guard, contracted transportation providers and management at nearby buildings to determine how many additional older adults could be brought to the clinics and to establish safety guidelines. Older adults who arrived at the clinics by bus remained on the buses and were joined by a COA volunteer and National Guard medical personnel to be vaccinated.
“This is the first time COA has worked with the National Guard to vaccinate older adults in this way,” said Ken Wilson, COA’s vice president of program operations and a lead coordinator for the vaccination clinics. “There was a lot of coordination and planning that went into these clinics. It was great to see everyone working together with one goal in mind: protecting vulnerable older adults from COVID-19.”
COA provided registration forms, clinic signage and educational materials for each building. At the clinics, COA staff assisted guard members and building staff with checking people in for their appointment times, reviewing registration paperwork, filling out vaccination cards, monitoring people after their vaccination, and connecting people with information and resources.
Some of the COA volunteers were care mangers who had clients in the buildings – clients they haven’t been able to see face to face since before the pandemic.
“I have missed those face to face interactions with our clients,” said Lisa Prewitt, a COA care manager who volunteered at one of the clinics. “Seeing the genuine excitement and interacting with the residents at the building was rejuvenating!”
Since the start of the pandemic, most building residents have been shut in their apartments. Common areas where residents previously gathered to socialize have been closed and congregate meals have been replaced with home-delivered meals.
Residents who came for vaccine appointments showed a range of emotions. Some were apprehensive about getting a new vaccine, but recognized it was their best option for getting their lives back to normal.
“I never get the flu shot,” a resident at St. Francis Court said, “but I thought this was important.”
“I volunteered so I could be a part of something big. It is so important that we bring the vaccines to those who need it most and that is what we were able to do at those clinics,” said Jaimie Robinson, manager of the Elderly Services Program at COA. “It was a great experience – those who were vaccinated were so happy and thankful. You could see so much hope and the energy was so positive.”
COA is working with the National Guard and Ohio Department of Aging to plan additional vaccine clinics in COA’s service area.
Click here for local news coverage of the Feb. 12 clinics.