Westerville firefighters take vaccines to homebound people, to tears of gratitude

Local News

WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — Home bound people receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine often have tears of gratitude for the Westerville firefighters giving them the shot.

Deputy Chief Mindy Gabriel says they are using the J&J COVID-19 vaccine in part because it has five doses per vial, allowing her to get shots in five arms before the vaccine gets to its expiration temperature.

The gratitude of the homebound has been immense, to the point of tears. “A wife when we went out, her husband had Alzheimer’s not able to get out of the house, she’s not able to leave him, and she was in tears because she said she would be able once he’s vaccinated to have someone care for him, and she’d be able to have respite and take a little break because she could have someone else come into the home.”

Gabriel and her team have given thousands of vaccines between the clinics at Franklin County Board of Elections and also the homebound program.

“Every patient we give we register, administer, and observe for symptoms. People are sometimes nervous when they get the vaccine, and if they haven’t eaten they might faint when they get a rush of relief,” said Gabriel who’s been in Westerville for about 18 months, after working 18 years as a firefighter in Upper Arlington.

When she and a colleague go into a home, she puts the vaccine into a Ziploc bag and records how long it’s been in there to ensure the proper temperature.

The station has an extra amount of vaccine, because when Governor Mike DeWine told local governments to order, they had to estimate how much they needed.

“Now we need to make sure we get that vaccine into arms, so that’s where we’ve been working closely to figure out what’s the best use of it, and this homebound, and then some of our businesses in Westerville we’ve been reaching out to see if they want to do clinics to be convenient to their employees,” Gabriel explained.

To schedule an appointment, call (614) 901-6605 and leave your name, home address and a return phone number.

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