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'We're forgotten:' Disabled, homebound Kent Co. woman struggles to get vaccinated

Maryegrace Punches hasn't left her home in more than a year, and no one will bring the vaccine to her.

WYOMING, Mich. — On Monday, when 13 ON YOUR SIDE got a message from a concerned viewer about getting her vaccine, we looked deeper into the issue.

A disabled Kent County woman who can't leave her home is worried she's been forgotten, so we went to find some answers. 

72-year-old Maryegrace Punches lives in Wyoming, and trying to get vaccinated has been anything but easy. "I am very handicapped and I am homebound," she said. 

Punches is very vulnerable to COVID-19 due to her age, disability and underlying conditions like diabetes. She hasn't left her home in more than a year, and she can't find anyone who will bring the vaccine to her. 

"That is really terrible," Punches said. "They want everybody to get vaccinated but yet you can't find anybody to come for the handicapped people. We're forgotten."

Punches said she and her husband both tried using the state's 2-1-1 resource, but couldn't get any answers. She wants the vaccine now more than ever because she still hasn't met her 5-month-old great-great-grandson. 

"I've been wanting to see him desperately," said Punches, "but because I can't get vaccinated, we can't do the four-generation picture because I can't get anybody to come to my house."

13 ON YOUR SIDE reached out to the state's 2-1-1 center. We asked: what is the solution for vaccinating Michiganders who are disabled or homebound? 

Here's how 2-1-1 engagement specialist Jessie Verville responded: saying "some counties have the ability to offer vaccines to homebound individuals, and some are still working out that process."

Verville added that the state is "trying to find ways to make sure everyone has a chance to get vaccinated whether homebound or not."

Kent County is not yet on the list of counties offering homebound vaccinations, but Verville said the health department is trying to fix that. 

"They're working out the process right at this moment and trying to figure out a safe way to offer that," said Verville. "So hopefully we'll have some good answers for everyone sometime very soon."

Those answers will finally give a sense of relief to people like Punches and the rest of the homebound community.

"Because we have feelings too," Maryegrace said. "We want to be protected."

In the meantime, Verville says to keep calling the 2-1-1 hotline and pressing the prompt for vaccine scheduling because more options are becoming available every day. 

You can find more about how to do that at the Michigan 2-1-1 website and the United Way website.

We also reached out to the Kent County Disability Advocates Network. They said they do have options for riding to get the vaccine. 

There are three organizations that offer low cost or donation-based rides for the disabled to take them to a clinic for their vaccine. Information can be found here.

And of course, always consult with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding your health.

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