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100-year-old Detroit woman receives vaccine, highlighting lack of access for homebound

Posted at 12:47 AM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 00:47:15-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — It’s been an isolating year for seniors like Ida Sterrett, who was born and raised in Detroit. She's lived in the area all 100 years of her life.

RELATED: Oakland County launches COVID vaccination program for homebound and long-term care residents

"We’ve got a cool relationship, I've always been here,” said Ida's daughter Marsha.

Marsha lives with her mother and cares for her. For most of the pandemic, Ida hasn't seen much of her other family.

"Nobody came in; my sisters and brothers would come by but they didn't go any further than the door," Marsha Sterrett said. "So for almost a year, nobody came inside at all.”

Once the COVID-19 vaccine became available, there was hope. However, Ida physically couldn’t get out of the house to a vaccine and Marsha couldn’t get a vaccine to them.

"Everybody I called, couldn’t get anybody. So we just had to wait," Marsha said."Then my sister sent you an email.”

That email sent us searching. We learned counties like Wayne and Oakland were doing homebound vaccinations. However, we couldn’t find any for Detroit listed online. 7 Action News contacted the state health department and spoke with Dr. Alexis Travis, senior deputy director with Aging and Adult Services to learn more.

“Many health departments have already started vaccinating homebound and we’ve been able to make some progress so far,” Dr. Travis said.

But progress has been slow. The state has identified more than 135,348 people 16 and over who receive home care. But as of April 26, 35,797 – or 27% – have been fully vaccinated.

“People who are homebound are at higher risk for complications related to coronavirus," Dr. Travis said. "So it’s very important to make sure we are addressing this need and not leaving anyone behind."

However, many patients who are home-bound feel that's exactly what's happening.

“That’s what these patients feel," said Azsha Matthew, a nurse practitioner with Oak Street Health Clinic in Southgate. "Multiple patients have said, 'it’s almost like we’ve been forgotten about.'”

Oak Street Health has been delivering vaccines to the homebound for the last few months. So far they've visited about 30 homes, as word of their effort spread.

“These patients who have needed home vaccinations, they have been looking for someone for three months plus,” Matthew said. "If we’ve got some vials open at the clinic and we can squeeze in the home visits, we organize it that way. We’ve been able to vaccinate everyone who’s given us a call”

7 Action News found Oak Street after reaching out to the Vaccine Angels on the Detroit Area Vaccine Hunters Facebook page. A call was made on behalf of Ida, and it wasn't long until Matthew paid her a visit, to administer the first dose of her vaccine.

After 100 years of life, every day is a blessing. And thanks to this day, hopefully, many more lie ahead for Ida.

“It’s a blessing I can’t explain. It’s truly a good blessing," Sterrett said. "And it only comes from the man upstairs, has blessed her to stay here this long.”

You can contact Oak Street Health at 734-530-6777.

Wayne County homebound vaccine contact list by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd