EL PASO COUNTY — "Let's hope it works.” 97-year-old Chalmer Ferguson is talking about the COVID-19 vaccine he just received at his home in Colorado Springs. The home visit is possible because of collaboration between Colorado Springs Fire Department, El Paso County Public Health, and community volunteers. It is a mobile vaccination initiate called Operation House Call.
Paramedics with Colorado Springs Fire Department partner with a volunteer and go out in teams of two to vaccinate residents of El Paso County who are truly homebound. “Never done this before,” said Captain Don Watkins with Colorado Springs Fire Department, "The fire department traditionally doesn't focus on vaccination efforts, but it's been identified as one of the most important, if not the most important thing we can be dedicating resources to right now."
The teams go out each Wednesday. “Get out there, get in their house, get them vaccinated,” said Watkins. It sounds simple, but it is time consuming. Along with travel time, each visit takes close to 30 minutes. After giving the shot, the teams stick around 15 to 20 minutes to make sure the patient does not have any adverse reactions to the vaccine.
The program is focused on vaccine accessibility for residents of El Paso Count most vulnerable to COVID-19. “Get to some of our high-risk individuals that were unable to leave their home.”
Colorado Springs Fire delivers the vaccine, but they do not make the appointments. It is arranged with a call to 2-1-1, the United Way community information service. Visits are scheduled for people who have no other way to get the vaccine