KANSAS CITY, MO – One year into the pandemic, Heart to Heart International is working with local agencies like Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus to ensure low income and homeless people are vaccinated. Shots went into the arms of some of the most vulnerable Mondays.
The people who lived in the makeshift homeless shelter in Bartle Hall received the one-time vaccine from Johnson and Johnson.
“We have 200 doses that everyone has been talking about,” said Dan Neal of Heart to Heart International.
These people are currently being housed at the Downtown Kansas City Council’s Temporary Warming Center.
“Yes, there is a lot of space,” said Neal. “Yes, they follow all the correct protocols, but they are more at risk because they all live together and spend the nights together.”
Neal said it opened opportunities for this vulnerable population of nearly 2,000 in Kansas City.
This can improve their housing options as they can move in with a relative they protected from the pandemic.
He said it will also help our community and reduce the health burden on hospitals.
“By protecting the homeless, it means that when they get sick they won’t get as sick and therefore not be admitted to the hospital,” Neal said.
“It’s so much better when you have less of a worry on the road,” said Jaysen Van Sickle, executive director of Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus.
He said they had permission from the CDC to distribute the vaccine.
The rollout started last week with 168 homeless temporary workers.
“It was just one of the joys to see how we help the volunteers,” said Van Sickle.
The number of vials they receive each week varies. Van Sickle said Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose vaccine was essential to the homeless community.
“How should we find these people to bring them back for the second dose,” said Van Sickles. “In a transitory universe, we really can’t take two doses.”
Van Sickle said they weren’t expecting any more pop-up distributions at Bartle Hall.
However, they plan to distribute the vaccine around their campus up to three times a week as needed. Again, this only applies to people with homelessness and low incomes and to homeless contract workers.
“We were in this mess for fifty-one weeks,” said Van Sickle. “During this time we had a medical response, we did COVID tests. And in 51 weeks we will be offering vaccines now. That’s pretty crazy for a year. So we will continue to help the helpers. But also helping people affected by homelessness and low incomes in the Kansas City area. “
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