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Following a temporary pause, the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) resumed its COVID-19 vaccination program for homebound individuals Monday, now administering doses of the Moderna vaccine to local residents who are unable to leave their home.

On Tuesday, Evelyn Hall became one of the first residents to receive the Moderna vaccine through this program, something she thought might not be possible, given her situation.

“I was just amazed, when I told them my situation, because they was just dealing with certain age groups, and I was kind of concerned,” Hall said. “If they would call me, I had to get a caravan to get me there. So I would have to have a day in advance to schedule, even to get there.”

Hall said that she suffered a stroke in 2014, confining her to a wheelchair. Since then, she has still been able to find ways to go to restaurants and see her family. But the coronavirus pandemic further limited her freedom.

“Just freedom to come and go,” Hall said. “Family, I mean, that’s the most I have missed, just family, being able to gather, and we going into church and we embrace and hug, and these things you wasn’t able to do. So yeah, that will be very important to me in my everyday life — fellowship with one another.”

Now just few weeks away from being fully vaccinated, Hall said she was overwhelmed by the opportunity receive the vaccine in her home and get back to some sense of normalcy.

“Wow. I just say wow,” she said. “I just like the way they have been dealing with all the people getting shots. I don’t know what anybody else is doing, but it’s good that y’all are jumping on it, y’all are making sure that people are not being missed.”

When the Richmond City Health District (RCHD) reached out to RAA about starting this program, Safety Risk Management Director Bryan McRay said there was no hesitation to help.

“We’re glad to be there for our community,” he said. “We always try to find something new and innovative to help the community, and this is just another way to do that.”

With the change to which vaccine the first responders are administering also came a change in scheduling.

“We did start with the Johnson & Johnson, and there was a pause. So, working with the health district, we made the change and are doing the Moderna, and we’ll continue with that until the health district tells us it’s time to change back,” McRay said. “Our initial intent was to be able to do one and keep moving. However, having to do Moderna, two doses, the health department schedules both dates at the same time.”

(Photo: Mark Tenia)

McRay said that the feedback from residents with who RAA interacts through this program has been positive.

“I think rewarding is the fact that it’s nice to be able to go in to somebody’s home that’s not a 9-1-1 emergency, and the folks that we’ve done so far are incredibly appreciative of us taking that extra step, and we certainly appreciate the health district giving us the opportunity to do that,” he said. “We want to make sure that they’re taken care of because of their vulnerabilities.”

McRay said that RAA’s allotment of vaccines comes from RCHD, the number of vaccines first responders administer daily through this program is dependent on what the health district schedules.

“Any opportunity the authority has to do something creative, to be able to meet that healthcare need of our community, we’re there for it,” McRay said. “That’s what we’ve done.”

Residents interested in scheduling a homebound vaccination can call RCHD’s hotline at 804-205-3501, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to schedule an appointment over the phone.