Local paramedics vaccinate the homebound


ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – There is a new focus in vaccinating St. Louis against COVID-19. Firefighter-paramedics are now making vaccine house calls for the homebound, county-wide.

Larry Walton’s 93-year-old mother wore her Sunday best for her second dose at the twice-a-week vaccination clinic at the Eureka Fire Protection training center in Pacific.

“I wore my best clothes,” she told her vaccinator.

She got her shot without leaving her son’s car.

She might have been vaccinated a lot sooner if she could have gotten her shots are home, he said.

“That’s what they really need to do for the elderly. It’s been really hard to get her in, take her in,” Walton said.

The clinic has vaccinated about 6,000 people so far.

There’s also a growing number of people being vaccinated at home: nearly 1,000 by firefighter/paramedics in west St. Louis County; more than 500 in north St. Louis County.

“We do make house calls,” said Eureka Fire Protection District Division Chief Scott Barthelmass. “We make house calls on fires and we make house calls for vaccinations.”

“People who are disabled or otherwise cannot get out of the house for medical reasons … we will actually come to their house,” said Asst. Chief Kevin Stuhlman, Pattonville Fire Protection District outside its weekly clinic in Bridgeton. “If you want it, call us; we will come to you.”

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health is partnering with all 42 fire departments throughout the county to vaccinate the homebound.

“I think that would make a big difference because people who are stuck at home and sometimes don’t know where to go,” said Thomas Johnson, who drove himself to the Bridgeton clinic Tuesday and used his walker to go inside and get his first dose. He’d been in and out of a hospital recently.

“Every day we respond to emergencies. You call 911. We come there. Our goal is to protect people and save people. It’s the same with the vaccinations,” Barthelmass said.

You can set up in-home vaccinations at www.stlcorona.com or by calling your fire department. You can even set up a pop up vaccination event.

“With ‘pop ups’ it’s a new strategy,” Stuhlman said. “If you have a church, if you have a group.”

There’s a pop-up event set for Pattonville High School on Saturday. “Walk-ins” are welcome.

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