Spotlight on COVID-19 with WRAAA's Mary Lipovan and Terri Foster
WRAAA helps Ohio’s vaccination efforts
When older adults living in disadvantaged neighborhoods did not have access to online resources to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy tasked the Ohio National Guard and Area Agency on Aging offices around the state to meet at-risk older adults where they lived. The Regional Rapid Response Assistance Program (R3AP) was created for this purpose. Thanks to R3AP, a growing group of vulnerable seniors has received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Mary Lipovan, WRAAA’s Director of Public Health Advocacy, and Terri Foster, Director of the Aging & Disability Resource Center, have led the agency’s R3AP effort.
What is WRAAA’s involvement with R3AP?
WRAAA’s goal is to support Gov. DeWine, the Ohio Department of Aging, and the Ohio National Guard’s R3AP initiative. Our WRAAA team has been involved in vaccine clinics located in senior apartments in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Lorain counties.
How do you determine which apartment complexes to visit?
The Ohio Department of Aging identified senior apartment complexes with high social vulnerability scores. We collaborated with the City of Cleveland Departments of Aging & Public Health and the Cuyahoga County Division of Senior Adult Services to help pinpoint the appropriate sites, with the majority being in Cuyahoga County’s high-density areas. WRAAA volunteers supported vaccine clinics at Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority buildings and other senior housing sites.
When are the clinics scheduled?
R3AP vaccine clinics are usually scheduled two days a week with two to three sites in one day. The initial goal was vaccinating large and small groups of older adults on-site at their apartment building. Now that all adults are eligible, the Governor has given us the flexibility to vaccinate eligible adults at the senior apartment sites.
Who delivers the vaccine?
The Ohio National Guard and the U.S. Army active personnel have been trained to draw up and administer the vaccine, which is transported to a vaccination clinic by the county’s EMS or a trained city or county employee.
How do you get the word out to apartment tenants?
We work with senior apartment site coordinators and property managers, who register residents and post vaccine signs before each clinic.
How do you make sure seniors return for a second shot?
Mary: We educate every adult we vaccinate about the importance of returning 28 days later for the second Moderna shot. A high rate of people come back to be fully vaccinated.
Do you have any resistance from people who refuse to be vaccinated?
Mary: There is always a group of late adopters for any vaccine, but we’ve found if seniors talk to trusted partners, family members, or religious leaders, they understand the benefits of being vaccinated. While we see the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19, we don’t force anyone to take the vaccine. If someone changes their mind, they can call us at 216-621-0303, and we will find local resources to get a vaccination.
Why has R3AP been such a good fit for WRAAA?
It’s meaningful to know that seniors who would not be vaccinated against COVID-19 are receiving their shots through R3AP clinics. It is also a perfect opportunity to reintroduce WRAAA’s services and companion partners like the Long Term Care Ombudsman to apartment residents and collaborate with other agencies that weren’t aware of the full array of WRAAA’s services. We have also formed new partnerships on a city, county, and state level.
We are working on a plan in Cuyahoga County to deliver vaccines to totally homebound people (due to medical, physical, or mental conditions.) We will work to identify these people, using all the communication and promotion tools available to us, like social media, phone calls, and TV promotion.