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CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind.––As vaccine eligibility expands in Indiana, not all Hoosiers are able to get to a clinic to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

The Crawfordsville Fire Department, whose nationally-recognized Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) Community Paramedicine Program provides preventative healthcare services and works to address rural health challenges, is now taking on a new task: administering at-home COVID-19 vaccines.

Spencer Stevens, community paramedic with the vaccination and immunization division said, “We very quickly identified that there was a need to go out into the home to vaccinate those individuals that couldn’t come to us.”

He said the Montgomery County Health Department has administered more than 8,000 vaccines to Hoosiers in the community and not one dose has been wasted. Recently, the department ran a vaccine clinic Stevens described as “seamless,” but noted it only works well for people who are able to make it to the clinic.

“We identified very quickly that by getting out and getting those people who couldn’t do that, it was gonna be a critical service and a high community value initiative for us to follow,” he said.

Stevens said they started by identifying people that have reached out to the health department and fire department, but began looking at different avenues to reach even more Hoosiers who may potentially be unable to travel for their vaccine.

“We identified other avenues such as Meals on Wheels, and the library in town has a homebound list where they deliver books,” said Stevens, “so really just identifying those people and seeking them out and calling them and asking them if they’d be interested in us coming out and servicing them in their home to get that COVID-19 vaccination.”

“A lot of these people are also the same ones that have been very afraid to leave their home over the last few months and providing this service has been a godsend,” said Stevens.

The program to help vaccinate homebound Hoosiers, which is different from the one run by the state, is only on its second week of operating on Wednesdays. 20 Hoosiers have been vaccinated so far.

“Again, that is a smaller number but when you weigh the community value of being able to go out and service those individuals, it’s like getting 100 or 200 people vaccinated at a time,” said Stevens.

Stevens said the health department is allocating doses specifically for the homebound program in the community.

Stevens said the program has been met with positive reaction in its first two weeks.

“I had one lady last week when we were going out doing immunizations that just cried and she was super happy and straight up asked me if it was okay if she left her home now,” he said.

He said preparing a list of Hoosiers in need of at-home services is also beneficial in the event the health department has any leftover vaccines at the end of a day.

“In larger metropolitan areas when you have some vaccine leftover at the end of the evening, say you have 20 doses that were leftover, it really isn’t that difficult to find a densely populated area of those that meet the qualifications that you can go out and service and take care of,” he said.

“In our setting, let’s say we have three or four doses left over in the evening, it’s very important for us to already have that list of people that are needing that service so that we can use that vaccine appropriately and get those people immunized effectively.”

On Wednesday, FOX59 joined Stevens as he made his way to the homes of Hoosiers signed up to receive their vaccine through the program.

“Most of the time when we’re called it’s because they’re having the worst day of their life and we’re there for an emergency. This is really an awesome opportunity to go out and take care of these people before they’re sick and preventative healthcare,” he said.

He said the main goal of their MIH program is to be proactive, not reactive.

“I just think it’s convenient for an older person. You don’t have to go out and be in crowds,” said Janet Merrill, who received her COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday.

Merrill, 74, said because she cannot stand for long periods of time and is recovering from multiple surgeries, this is the perfect option for her.

“They’ve always had interest in the community anyway. They do a lot of good things for the community,” she said of the Crawfordsville Fire Dept.

“It’s an easy process, it doesn’t hurt, you know. Even if it hurt a little it wouldn’t make a difference,” she said.

Stevens said through community collaboration with different agencies and city officials, he believes they will have the ability to make a big community impact through this program.

“We’re set up for success and we’re really leading the way on this,” said Stevens.