DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – Since its launch last month, frontline healthcare workers in hospitals have given priority to the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, some workers who care for patients who live at home say they are not eligible under the state’s current vaccination schedule.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
Florida Department of Health States on its website that the current priority for admission only applies to “people aged 65 and over and to health workers with direct patient contact and residents and employees of long-term care facilities”.
BrightStar Care provides home health care throughout South Florida.
Shayna Adaniel, director of customer service at BrightStar Care, said her staff had direct patient contact with patients and believed their staff would be involved in the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Shayna Adaniel says caregivers and clients have been excluded from the governor’s order to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines.
“Home health has gotten into this ‘blind spot’ from the start,” said Adaniel.
She said they saw local hospitals and local long-term care facilities receiving the vaccine. But for some reason, their carers and clients were excluded from the governor’s executive order.
She adds that many of her clients have dementia and cannot leave their homes.
“Just because they chose to stay in their homes doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be eligible for these vaccines,” Adaniel said.
Another issue that Adaniel is concerned about is the availability of the vaccine.
“People are scared, and we have people calling and asking if we can help them get vaccines,” Adaniel said.
Director of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County Dr. Alina Alonso said Thursday It could be months before more vaccines are made available to more members of the public.
Palm Beach County Government
Dr. Alina Alonso said it could be months before there is an excess of COVID-19 vaccines so other groups can get the shot.
“I assume that within two months we will get to phase two, where we have more vaccines, and in six months we will have a free-flowing vaccine,” Alonso said.
Adaniel said a plea was made last week to Florida senators to include home health workers and their clients on the vaccination schedule.
“Who has more direct patient contact with someone? Who bathes someone or helps them get up from a chair?” Asked Adaniel.
She said it will be a wait game to see if the state makes any changes.