Local health center administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine to homeless population

Posted at 12:34 AM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 11:39:45-04

IDAHO — Family Medicine Health Center is going mobile to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to people experiencing homelessness.

Penny Beach MD, Chief Medical Officer with Family Medicine said over the last year they’ve been able to provide COVID-19 tests to the homeless community and if an unhoused individual tested positive for the virus the person would temporarily be put up in a hotel to prevent spread, but the goal is to avoid infection entirely.

“They have no way of isolating themselves from other people. COVID spreads really easily in this population even with the efforts of the hotel. it’s super important that they get vaccinated. Also, many of them have pre-existing health conditions that make them more at risk of getting severe COVID-19,” Beach said.

Family Medicine is using the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“This population can be hard to find and administer that second dose and also there’s also a lot of vaccine hesitancy in this community so they were more amenable to taking the shot if they only needed to take one injection,” Beach said.

The team has already helped 180 people get vaccinated at shelters in Nampa and Boise, including Interfaith Sanctuary.

“I mean It’s amazing it’s the Johnson and Johnson one dose that will make us more successful,” said Jodi Peterson-Stigers, Executive Director of Interfaith Sanctuary.

A key part of Interfaith Sanctuary effort is building trust and providing additional opportunities for some guests who are initially hesitant to get their shots.

“We had a good couple of days. One of the warming shelter with like 63 vaccinations and then on Sunday interfaith got another 40 I think and we’re going to do more clinics at the warming shelter and keep trying to have the conversation and it’s only as effective with how many guests we can actually get to vaccinate,” Peterson-Stigers said.