ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Currently, millions of New Yorkers are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, that includes those who live and work in homeless shelters. Local shelters are running into some obstacles, including some hesitancy among that population.
“I think when the homeless population is given enough vaccination, it will really help control the outside too,” says Perry Jones, Executive Director of the Capital City Rescue Mission. Individuals who live and work in homeless shelters fall under Phase 1B of the state’s vaccine distribution plan. That group has been eligible since mid January.
The limited vaccine supply has been an ongoing challenge. “I feel like once the vaccines are plentiful we will be in better shape,” says Janine Robitaille, Executive Director of the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless. Janine says it comes down to transportation. She questions how she and her staff bring people to get the vaccine. “I think as providers, would be lets bring the vaccination to the people. We could pull a van up to every location.”
Luckily, for residents at the Capital City Rescue Mission, it’s just half a mile walk to the Times Union Center, that’s if they were able to book an appointment beforehand. However, that’s not the only issue local shelters are facing.
“How can [we] keep people in shelter for the second dose? Our goal is to always get people in shelter and work on getting them out of shelter. It makes them stay longer, but it’s almost like we have to keep those people who were vaccinated so we can keep track of them to get the second shot,” says Janine. Perry Jones says usually during winter time, people stay at the shelter longer. “Because it’s code blue, and its real cold outside, we do tend to have people stay with us during the winter.”
Janine says a lot of individuals at the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless fear getting vaccinated. She says it comes down to educating people and she wants community members to help. “We hired outside people coming in to educate. We [had people come on through Zoom too.] We’re trying everything we can to help people understand. I think time will help. And I think people speaking from the community will help as well,” she says.