In three days, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) has vaccinated close to 200 shelter guests and nearly 150 staff members at the city's three biggest overnight emergency shelters — the public men's and women's shelters run by Boston Public Health Commission and Pine Street Inn. There are about 2,000 people staying in Boston shelters who are 18 or older and approximately 1,500 shelter staffers eligible for the vaccine, according to BHCHP, which says it's aiming to offer first doses to all of those people by the end of February.
Dr. Jim O’Connell, president of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, said that living outdoors carries severe health risks, but that right now, given the potential for transmission of COVID-19 indoors, “allowing the encampments to be is probably safer during these immediate times."
Olivia Allison, a care coordinator at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program who works with Welcome Home to provide goods for newly housed individuals, said she was nervous at the beginning of the stay at home order that many organizations were working entirely remotely. But when she emailed Welcome Home about providing items for one of her clients, they were able to fulfill the request with curbside pickup.
Last flu season, about 3,500 homeless Boston residents, roughly half the city’s estimated homeless population, agreed to get the flu shot, said Dr. Denise De Las Nueces, medical director of Boston’s Health Care for the Homeless Program.