Meals on Wheels recipients hope they can get vaccinated at home

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Imagine being unable to leave your home even for contactless pickup or just to get some fresh air.

For some people, even before the pandemic, Meals on Wheels deliveries were their only contact with the outside world.

Now, some of those people are wondering how they will be able to get vaccinated without leaving the house.

"We've had about 400 people who have responded to us that they are interested in receiving the vaccine," said Alan Winstead the executive director of Meals on Wheels of Wake County.

Like everything else, the Wake County Meals on Wheels program has had to shift during the pandemic.

Volunteers now load the cars of drivers without contact.

At the start of the pandemic, the program made drastic cuts in deliveries.

"We went from five days a week delivery to just one day a week delivery," Winstead said. "And we took multiple meals to people. And we realized people needed other foods. So we took supplemental food."

Joe Srebalus has been volunteering with the Wake County Meals on Wheels program for five years.

He not only delivers meals, but he also serves on the nonprofit's board.

"A lot of times, this is the only daily interaction that some of these people have," he told ABC11. "And so, it means a lot even if we're just there for a couple minutes."

He said the work has been especially important during the pandemic since he may be the only person on who people can unload their concerns.

"I've heard some sad stories and firsthand accounts of some of these folks losing family members to COVID," Srebalus said.

Srebalus and other volunteers are now back up to two deliveries a week.

Meals on Wheels would like to continue expanding that until it can get back to five days a week.

That's where the vaccine comes in.

"As more and more people are being vaccinated, we're seeing an uptick in interest in our volunteers coming back," Winstead said.

ABC11 asked about those 400 clients unable to get out of their homes who want to be vaccinated.

Winstead responded, "We have had some discussions with Wake County Public Health. We've identified some people who would receive the vaccine if someone could come to their house."

Winstead said that arrangement would be dependent on vaccine supplies and logistics.
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