A pilot program launching in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto that will have paramedics visiting homebound residents to administer COVID-19 vaccinations could be expanded countywide.
The pilot will initially have Menlo Park Fire District paramedics visiting the homes of 10 eligible residents with limited mobility to provide vaccinations. If the pilot is successful, it will likely expand countywide, said Menlo Park City Councilmember Ray Mueller, who helped push for the new program along with Mayor Drew Combs.
Vaccinating vulnerable populations such as homebound seniors has been a challenge during the pandemic. Under San Mateo County rules, registered nurses (RNs) are needed to administer vaccines, a process that takes 30 to 45 minutes per site visit. The County has been using its limited resource of RNs at mass vaccination sites.
Interested in the Menlo Park/East Palo Alto pilot program, the County went to Blue Shield of California, which is heading California’s vaccine distribution plan, to request permission to use paramedics to vaccinate homebound seniors. Mueller met with Menlo Park Fire District Chief Harold Schapelhouman, Menlo Park City Manager Starla Jerome-Robinson, and county professional staff to hash out the program’s details.
The County is determining eligibility requirements while the City of Menlo Park is responsible for conducting outreach to eligible residents, Mueller said. The fire district will seek to be reimbursed for the cost of the program, so the City of Menlo Park will not be required to contribute financially.
In Menlo Park, about 59 residents are eligible for the program, while in East Palo Alto it’s 79, Mueller said. While over 75 percent of the city’s residents have received COVID-19 vaccinations, only about 10 percent of its homebound residents have, he said.
The councilmember is encouraging homebound residents in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto to contact the San Mateo County Aging and Adult Services at (650) 573-3900 to get on the list.
Mueller expressed his “personal gratitude to the county and fire district for working with Menlo Park and East Palo Alto on this pilot.”