San Diego County

Homebound Oceanside Senior ‘Frustrated' by County Delays Amid Quest for COVID-19 Vaccine

NBC Universal, Inc.

Juanita Kear, 74, is tethered to her Oceanside home by a long plastic tube attached to an oxygen tank. She's having trouble getting her hands on a COVID-19 vaccine, and she said she feels like San Diego County has put her “on the backburner."

“I have asthma. I have congestive heart failure, and I have a-fib,” said Kear, who wishes she was mobile so she could go get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“My family’s all got their shots and I’m older than all of 'em,” Kear said. She’s frustrated because in spite of her age and poor health, she can’t get her shot.

Kear said she started calling San Diego County’s 2-1-1 line after they advertised it as a place where seniors without access to computers, or people who were homebound could call to schedule vaccinations.

The first time she called, Kear said a man on the line told her she’d get a call within the next 10 days. The call never came. Kear called at least two other times and was told her name was on a list to get vaccinated, but nobody ever told her when that would happen.

“It’s been really frustrating because there’s only one thing I want out of all this and that’s to hug my family,” said Kear. “I’m a hugger. They’re all huggers. We can’t hug.”

Kear said she doesn’t have much sympathy for the county health department since they had an entire year to get ready for vaccine distribution.

“I don’t feel that they’ve done their job… I know that nobody was ready for all of this, but it’s been a year,” she said. “Most kids go to school for a year and they learn a lot in a year, but it doesn’t seem like these people have learned anything and they’re adults.”

This week after seeing an NBC story about another homebound senior getting his shot, Kear’s daughter emailed NBC 7 to share her mother’s concerns hopimg it will pave the way to vaccination.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher admitted this week that there have been some “hiccups” in plans to get vaccines to homebound residents, adding that the county is now “back on track” to  get shots in the arms of people who can’t leave their homes.

A spokesman for San Diego County responded to questions from NBC 7 in an email that said about 400 homebound people are on the waiting list to get their shots. Those individuals are now being scheduled for the one-time Johnson &Johnson vaccine, which is being administered by Sharp Healthcare. Sharp recently stepped up to take over the failing program.

A Sharp spokesperson said about 20 homebound people were vaccinated Thursday, and hopefully the numbers would rise to 35 per day in the coming days.

Vaccinating the homebound is complicated. Not only do caregivers have to drive to a person’s home, but there are also health assessments, safety protocols to follow, and vaccine supply issues. Each appointment takes at least an hour from start to finish.

Ideally, homebound patients will get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine since it requires a single dose, according to the county.

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