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‘A Blessing’: DeKalb Starts Program To Take Vaccines To Homebound Seniors

DeKalb County resident Samuel Gates celebrates receiving his COVID-19 vaccine outside his home Tuesday morning.
DeKalb County resident Samuel Gates celebrates receiving his COVID-19 vaccine outside his home Tuesday morning.
Credit Emil Moffatt / WABE

Samuel Gates and his wife, Yvonne, sat in matching red lawn chairs outside their south DeKalb home. One after the other, they rolled up their sleeves and received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“When the shot came out, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to wait until the one-shot comes,’” said Gates, preferring the J&J vaccine to the two-shot Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.

“You know, the Bible says, ‘You ask and ye shall receive,’” he continued, pumping his fist in the air in excitement.

The Gateses were the first of nearly three-dozen DeKalb County seniors set to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses at their homes Tuesday.

Yvonne calls the at-home shots a blessing for her and so many others.

“There are a lot of seniors that do not have anyone to come and take them, not even their family. They don’t have anyone,” she said.

Yvonne says she and her husband can’t stand up for very long, so having the vaccines come to them was important. She says she can’t wait to host a barbeque and bake again for family and friends.

“Seniors, don’t be afraid because this is for your protection,” she said of the vaccine. “Because there’s a lot of young people that don’t honor y’all. They don’t wear their masks, and they don’t try to stay away from you. So get the shot.”

A DeKalb County paramedic administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Yvonne Gates on Tuesday. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)
A DeKalb County paramedic administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Yvonne Gates on Tuesday. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond says the program is a joint effort between the county’s fire department and senior services.

With an estimated 600 homebound seniors living in the county, Thurmond calls it a critical next step in helping to end the pandemic.

“We have up until this point not really focused enough attention on those homebound senior citizens and people with disabilities who are either unable to get to the site or unable to stand in lines in order to receive the vaccine,” said Thurmond.

Officials say DeKalb residents, who aren’t already involved in the county’s senior services or Meals on Wheels program, can contact the health department to see about arranging a home vaccination.