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YONKERS, New York - Some senior citizens and others can't leave home to get vaccinated against COVID-19 - so the vaccine is coming to them.
"It's a blessing," Clara Vazquez said as her 83-year-old mother, who suffers from dementia and Alzheimer's disease, prepared to receive her second vaccination.
Clara Vazquez, 56, uses crutches to walk and has carpal tunnel syndrome. Yet, she cares for her mother's around-the-clock needs inside their second-floor apartment in Yonkers, just north of New York City.
Like many homebound seniors with mobility issues, it would be difficult for Idalia Vazquez to leave her home and go to a vaccination site. So a team of medical professionals is making house calls.
"It's worth more than a million dollars," said Clara Vazquez. She said it would take her mom about two hours to get down the single flight of stairs to the front door.
The in-home vaccinations are free and are funded by the Yonkers Office for the Aging and Ro, a healthcare technology company.
Registered nurse Helen Turchioe said she administers about 10 to 15 shots per day to elderly, disabled or homebound patients who cannot leave home or feel unsafe doing so.
While rubbing her hand, Clara Vazquez soothed her mother as Turchioe administered the vaccine made by Moderna.
After the shot, Clara said, "My mom, she's aware of things. She can't articulate ... but I know that just by seeing her expression, her face, I know that she understands that this is good for her."
Turchioe said she takes comfort in helping at-risk patients.
"Everybody has just been so appreciative. I've had patients that are 95 and 100 years old that tell you that they wouldn't have been vaccinated if we weren't able to come out," she said.
"It feels good to make them feel comfortable and to let them know that they can hug their grandchildren again, and their great-grandchildren."
There are more than 3 million seniors in New York who may have trouble leaving home to get a COVID-19 vaccination, according to Ro. The company, which began its pilot in-home vaccination program in Yonkers, said it intends to expand it into other communities. REUTERS