Members and advocates of the Florida home health industry urge heads of state to administer vaccines, saying that many home providers have been turned away by the state vaccination centers “because of different interpretations” of who is eligible for shots.

This has resulted in a decrease in patients seeking home health care for fear of catching COVID-19 from their caretakers, Bobby Lolley, director of the Home Care Association of Florida, wrote in one letter to DeSantis Tuesday. He called for the “explicit naming” of in-home providers as frontline workers in the healthcare sector.

“A nurse, therapist, or nurse caring for patients in the home environment is no different from their counterpart in an institution, but home health workers are still a blind spot in the vaccination program,” Lolley wrote, dismissing followed by the governor’s decree of December 23, which named “health workers with direct patient contact” as the priority group for vaccinations.

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The Home Care Association represents providers to more than 2,000 state-licensed home health agencies who care for more than 350,000 high-risk patients each year, the letter said. Much of the work takes place in the patients’ homes, but members also look after nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and inpatient hospices.

Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat, confirmed the association’s letter in a tweet on Wednesday and nudged Florida’s emergency management director, Jared Moskowitz, to speak to him. “We have heard a lot about this problem,” he wrote.

We’ve heard a lot about this issue – home health workers are turned away and unable to get COVID vaccines due to a “blind spot” in the system. These front-line workers serve 350,000 high-risk patients in Florida and are eligible. I am sure you @ JaredEMoskowitz will investigate! https://t.co/cya6gZwX6h

– Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) February 10, 2021

Lolley claimed that shots at home health workers would reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community, thereby reducing hospital stays and giving patients better access to care. He suggested distributing vaccines directly to home health officials and, if not, that the state give home health workers access to admissions at county health departments or hospitals.

“As hospital workers have unrestricted access to the vaccine and pharmacies offer door-to-door vaccinations to domestic and local residents, we ask that you provide fair access to home health officials,” Lolley wrote, adding that “home health patients and the workforce who cares for them should be given high priority access to the vaccine. “

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