Health Center News, Uncategorized

Vaccinating Hundreds in Denver’s Homeless Community

Homeless man getting vaccinated

Meeting clients where they are is an essential strategy used by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (the Coalition) to administer the COVID-19 vaccines to its clients. Based in Denver, Colorado, the Coalition takes a comprehensive approach to the causes and consequences of homelessness. This is done by supporting adults and children experiencing or at-risk for homelessness with integrated healthcare, housing, and wrap-around services.

“We decided to deploy a multi-prong strategy where we can reach folks in various access points – rather than hosting mass vaccination events,” says Joanna Leonard, PharmD, MPH, Director of Pharmacy Services at the Coalition. “It is often difficult to get clients to come to one place.”

Many of the Coalition’s patient populations face chronic homelessness and suffer from mental health issues, emotional and physical trauma, and serious chronic medical conditions. They distrust the systems of care that support them. Thus, administering the COVID-19 vaccine to this community can require very high touch outreach and meeting them where they are most comfortable.

The Coalition’s multi-point strategy consists of:

  • twice-weekly COVID-19 vaccination clinics at their Stout Street Health Center where they administer up to 100 doses per day
  • vaccination administration during regularly scheduled patient visits
  • a mobile vaccination team who goes out to vaccinate clients at residential sites or locations where the Coalition provides temporary housing and support services
  • running medical clinics in the lobbies of six Denver hotels serving as a protected active sites. These sites offer a safe housing alternative to the city’s homeless community in an effort to reduce COVID-19 transmissions.

This multi-prong and high-touch vaccination strategy is proving to be very effective and getting hundreds of people who are homeless, or at-risk for homelessness, vaccinated. To date, the Coalition has administered over 700 doses of COVID vaccines to patients. This includes vaccinating 138 patients in protected action sites (30% had received 2 doses and 70% received only 1 dose).