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Home health care workers not included in first wave of Florida COVID-19 vaccines

Home health has fallen into 'blind spot,' BrightStar Care spokeswoman says
Posted at 1:38 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 18:05:22-05

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Frontline health care workers at hospitals have been a priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine since it rolled out last month.

However, some workers who provide care for patients who live at home say they are not eligible under the state's current vaccination plan.


The Florida Department of Health states on its website that the current priority for the shot is only for "persons 65 years of age and older and health care personnel with direct patient contact and residents and staff of long term care facilities."

BrightStar Care offers in-home health care options across South Florida.

Shayna Adaniel, director of client services at BrightStar Care, said their employees have direct patient contact with patients and believed their workers would be included in the phase one COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Shayna Adaniel
Shayna Adaniel says caregivers and clients have been left out of the governor's executive order to receive priority for COVID-19 vaccines.

"Home health has fallen into this 'blind spot' since the very beginning," Adaniel said.

She said they watched local hospitals and local long-term care facilities receive the vaccine. But for some reason, their caregivers and clients have been left out of the governor's executive order.

She adds many of their clients suffer from dementia and cannot leave their homes.

"Just because they chose to stay in their homes doesn't mean that they shouldn't be entitled to those vaccines," Adaniel said.

Another issue Adaniel is worried about is the availability of the vaccine.

"People are scared, and we have people calling and asking if we can help them get vaccines," Adaniel said.

Director of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County Dr. Alina Alonso said Thursday it could be months before more vaccines are made available to more members of the public.

Dr. Alina Alonso
Dr. Alina Alonso said it could be months before there is a surplus of COVID-19 vaccines to allow other groups to receive the shot.

"I expect within two months we are going to get to that phase two where we have more vaccine, and into six months we will have free-flowing vaccine," Alonso said.

Adaniel said a plea was made to Florida senators last week to include home health care workers and their clients in the vaccination plan.

"Who has more direct patient contact with someone? Who is giving someone a bath or helping them get out of a chair?" Adaniel asked.

She said it will be a waiting game to see if the state makes any changes.