Local organizations working together to help low-income and homeless get COVID-19 vaccine

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A year into the pandemic, Heart to Heart International is partnering with local agencies like Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus to make sure low-income and the homeless get vaccinated. Shots went into arms of some of the most vulnerable Monday.

The people staying at the temporary homeless shelter inside Bartle Hall received the Johnson and Johnson one-dose vaccine.

“We have 200 doses that have all been spoken for,” Dan Neal with Heart to Heart International said.

These people are currently being housed inside the Downtown Kansas City Council temporary warming center.

“Yes, there’s lots of space,” Neal said. “Yes, they’re following all the right protocols, but they’re more at risk due to the fact that they’re all living together, spending the nights together.”

Neal said it opens opportunities for this vulnerable population of almost 2,000 in Kansas City.

It may improve their housing possibilities, being able to move in with a relative who they’ve been protecting from the pandemic.

He said it will also help our community, easing the health care burden on hospitals.

“By protecting homeless, that means if they get sick, they won’t get as sick and therefore, they won’t be admitted to the er, the hospital,” Neal said.

“It’s so much better when they have one less thing to worry about on the streets,” Executive Director of Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus Jaysen Van Sickle said.

He said they got permission from the CDC to distribute the vaccine.

The rollout started last week with 168 homeless agency workers getting the shot.

“It was just one of the biggest joys to watch us help the helpers,” Van Sickle said.

The amount of vials they get every week varies. Van Sickle said the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine is imperative for the homeless community.

“How were we going to find those individuals to bring them back in for the second dose,” Van Sickles said. “We really can’t do a two dose in a transient universe.”

Van Sickle said they aren’t expecting any more of pop up distributions at Bartle Hall.

However, they are planning to distribute the vaccine at their campus up to three times a week as needed. Again, this is only for people experiencing homelessness and low-income, as well as, homeless agency workers.

“Fifty-one weeks we have been in this mess,” Van Sickle said. “In that time we have had a medical response, we have been doing COVID testing. And 51 weeks in, we are now providing vaccines. That’s pretty crazy for a one year span. So, all we’re going to do is keep helping the helpers, as well. But also helping anyone experiencing homelessness and low income in the Kansas City area.”

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