SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – One hundred of the single-dose Johnson and Johnson coronavirus vaccines were given to the homeless population in downtown Sacramento.
Four Sacramento Fire Department paramedics worked with homeless advocates and UC Davis Health to get the vaccines to those who need them living on the streets.READ MORE: Sacramento County Tackles Zip Code Vaccine Disparities
“My mom is 97 and she said if you don’t get the shot-I’m not coming to see you,” said a man named Joseph, who didn’t qualify to receive the vaccine until this week.
He was happy to receive one of the shots so he can get back to finding a job.
“It makes it really hard, especially when you can’t go anywhere to do anything. I stay away from people more than I associate with people,” Joseph said.
Tracking the transient population proved more difficult than initially thought.
“The occupants of these camps are either sleeping or in another area right now and then they come here later in the day,” said Sacramento Fire Chief Gary Loesch.
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And once they found them, some refused the vaccine altogether.
“It seems to be a challenge to get to the homeless community and make them aware that this is a good thing and that we really are here to strictly vaccinate them and nothing more,” Loesch said.
Dr. MK Orsulak, who championed the effort, said “it is our goal and duty to offer it to people and let them make the decision.“
The idea is to meet people where they are.
“I believe we have to work harder and better to reducing the barriers to health care,” Orsulak said.
In a time when some criticized the state’s decision to move homeless to the front of the line for vaccines, one woman responded, “There’s a lot of things they are at the back of the line for.”
“My answer is, we’re allowed to do those in congregate settings. We’re allowed to do homeless. Once Johnson and Johnson came on the scene. It helps because we don’t have to track them,” said Loesch.
A really small step most feel has a big impact for those like Joseph trying to get back on their feet.MORE NEWS: Stockton Teen, 14, Shot While Driving Left Paralyzed
“It makes me feel good that I can go do things without being afraid I can catch it,” Joseph said.