A Texas city booked vaccine appointments for its seniors by using the Meals on Wheels database

Michelle Mark
·2 min read
covid vaccine elderly
CVS pharmacist Gina Glancy gives the second dosage of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Bob Jensen, 89, during a clinic at The Watermark at Bellingham in East Goshen Wednesday. Pete Bannan via Getty Images
  • Corpus Christi, Texas, vaccinated its homebound seniors by using the Meals on Wheels database.

  • City workers used the database to reach out to the elderly and arrange their vaccine appointments.

  • The program has won praise across the state, and is being implemented in other Texas cities, too.

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A Texas city found an innovative way to ensure homebound seniors could easily access vaccine appointments - and now it's being used as a model across the entire state.

The fire department in Corpus Christi, Texas, paired up with the local Meals on Wheels program to reach out to seniors already in their database to arrange vaccine appointments. From there, firefighters arrived at the seniors' homes to vaccinate them.

"We thought that if we could access those lists, who already have a pre-programmed route that they take, we could shadow them and vaccinate senior citizens in their home," Chief Robert Rocha told the local NBC News affiliate KXAN last month.

Getting seniors to book vaccine appointments has been a pain point across the country, with many providers using complicated online booking systems that the elderly tend to struggle with. Many seniors don't own smartphones or computers, and data from the Pew Research Center has shown that less than half of seniors aged 80 or older use the internet, and only about one-quarter even have access to broadband.

Corpus Christi's mayor, Paulette Guajardo, told CNN in an interview that city officials across the country need to be taking vaccines directly to seniors, and not simply wait for seniors to book appointments themselves.

"The program came about as a need to vaccinate our most vulnerable population - homebound seniors," Guajardo said. "We need to vaccinate as many people as fast as we can and the fastest way."

Guajardo added that the Meals on Wheels database has since been exhausted, so the city opens up a weekly hotline to schedule appointments for homebound seniors and people with disabilities.

Gov. Greg Abbott even praised Corpus Christi's program during a February 25 press conference, calling it "a model for the statewide initiative" and saying the rest of the state will implement similar programs using the National Guard.

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