Advocates Relieved To Finally Hold Vax Clinics For The Homeless

Apr 1, 2021

Now that COVID-19 vaccine eligibility has expanded, two Lane County organizations are ready to get shots in the arms of people experiencing homelessness—starting Thursday.

Cass is shown here with son Skyler in May 2020 at SVdP First Place Annex Night Shelter. Adult clients experiencing homelessness, who receive SVdP services through long-term programs like the Annex, will be among the first to receive COVID vaccines.
Credit St. Vincent de Paul

Vaccination teams from Willamette Family will immediately begin administering shots to people who already receive assistance from Saint Vincent de Paul. The first micro vax clinics will be held at a Eugene day shelter, First Place Family Center, and at Aster Apartments for low-income seniors in Springfield.

“It’s really addressing the issue of population health.”

Susie Dey is Executive Director of Willamette Family, an authorized vaccine provider. “You know these populations are at risk for so many illnesses and so much devastation because of their living circumstances and lack of resources.”

Dey said they currently have access to the two-dose Moderna vaccine and will prioritize vaccinating vulnerable clients who already participate in St. Vinnie programs—so they can get them back for the second shot in 28 days.

Staff at First Place Family Center are excited about holding COVID vaccination clinics for people experiencing homelessness.
Credit St. Vincent de Paul

Dey said because the unhoused and low-income senior populations can have issues with mobility and lack of technology, second dose follow up can be a real challenge. She looks forward to getting supplies of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

When the J & J doses arrive later this month, St. Vincent de Paul will re-prioritize- providing vaccinations for all adults experiencing homelessness who receive drop-in services at the Eugene Service Station, Atkinson Food Room, Dawn to Dawn tent shelter, and The Hub clinic operated in partnership with Willamette Family.

Tim Black is Winter Strategies Coordinator and point person on vaccine delivery for Saint Vinnie’s. He said he’s grateful for the help of Lane County Public Health and Willamette Family to get these vax clinics underway. He calls it a long-awaited development that's finally arrived.

Residents of the Aster Apartments, an SVdP managed affordable housing complex for low-income seniors in Springfield, can receive the first of two COVID-19 vaccine doses on site April 1.
Credit St. Vincent de Paul

“We’re starting in our housing and shelter programs with more stable residents who will also be available for second doses. And we’ll expand to other St. Vincent de Paul programs when we have access to vaccines that only require one dose.”

Black said this vaccination effort will protect some of Lane County’s “most vulnerable and often forgotten people.” And he added, “if our unhoused neighbors are safer, we’re all safer.”