Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association Members Administer COVID-19 Vaccines to Homebound
Harford County, Md. – Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association (HCVFA) members have taken on an additional volunteer role to aid in the local pandemic response—by administering COVID-19 vaccinations to homebound and infirmed members of the community.
“With the pandemic, it became pretty obvious that people who were homebound were having difficulty trying to get out to get the vaccines,” says Linda Dousa, chair of the HCVFA EMS Committee, and EMS Chief at Abingdon Fire Company.
When the Harford County Health Department reached out to the HCVFA to see if they could help, Dousa was able to organize volunteers. The effort began in May 2021, and has provided about 200 vaccinations, Dousa says.
The Harford Co. Fire & EMS volunteers are going out to community members who may be elderly, bedbound, lacking transportation, or have a variety of other reasons why it’s helpful to have someone come to them. And given that those with underlying health conditions are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, they are some of the most important community members to reach.
“The people we go to are just so appreciative,” Dousa says. “And we’ve been [administering COVID-19 vaccinations to] their caregivers too, if they need the shot,” she adds—adding yet another layer of protection.
The health department schedules three dates per month and makes the appointments. The HCVFA’s role is to keep finding volunteers, which can be difficult with all the duties they already uphold, along with growing COVID-19 fatigue, Dousa notes.
However, once they get out there, she says, they are finding this role to be very rewarding—not only because they are helping the community, but because the vaccine appointments are opportunities to provide non-emergency, non-stress public assistance.
“A lot of times we just get the bad stuff,” Dousa says. “And a lot of the people that we have gone and given vaccines to have just been really appreciative.”
As a result, all of the participating volunteers have said that they enjoy it, Dousa says. “Just going out to the houses and talking to the people…a lot of times there may be family members or other caregivers,” she adds, and volunteers are able to participate in their conversations around COVID-19, vaccinations, and boosters.
“The value is that you’re helping your fellow citizens—and yourself because you’re getting people vaccinated,” she adds.
Typically, the volunteers start at 9 a.m. on each event day, pick up the vaccines at the health department in Edgewood, and then visit each address on their list.
No extra training was required, as paramedics are already trained to give shots, Dousa notes. EMTs often assist the paramedics by managing the paperwork and watching the patients afterward for any reaction to the shot.
All in all, it’s been a positive experience on all sides, and the effort is ongoing, Dousa says.
Those interested in scheduling an in-home COVID-19 vaccine, either for themselves or someone they care for, may contact the Harford County Health Department at 410-838-1500 or harfordcountyhealth.com.
About Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association
The Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association (HCVFA) is comprised of 12 combination EMS and all-volunteer fire organizations. Supporting these organizations are 1,500 personnel who responded to over 38,000 calls for fire and EMS service in 2021. These personnel are committed to protecting life, property and the environment, 24/7/365, for the 275,000 residents, workers, and visitors in Harford County and surrounding areas. To keep up with everything fire and EMS in Harford County, MD, or if you are interested in joining your local volunteer fire/ems organization, visit harfordvolunteer.com or follow Harford Volunteer on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.