Mobile vaccine clinic brings doses to vulnerable populations in Edmonton
EDMONTON -- A new campaign in Edmonton helps bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the city’s homeless population.
Starting Tuesday, nurses and outreach workers will make their rounds in a van equipped with a special refrigerator and medical supplies to deliver doses.
The Boyle McCauley Health Centre staff will partner with outreach workers from the Bissell Centre to connect with homeless and vulnerable people to ensure they have access to receiving a first dose.
Almost 2.5 million Albertans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but for Edmonton’s homeless population the vaccine is often out of reach.
Multiple roadblocks stand in the way of getting a vaccine for Albertans experiencing homelessness, including a lack of ID, transportation, or no internet access to book an appointment.
Tricia Smith, Boyle McCauley Health Centre executive director told CTV News Edmonton that is why the mobile health team will bring the vaccine directly to them.
“We’re going to drive it around the city and go to where the people who need it are,” she said.
For Smith, helping the most vulnerable populations is critical to ensuring no one is left behind in the race to COVID-19 immunity.
“They’re as important as all of the rest of us are,” Smith added. “In many cases they have a lot of chronic illness. A lot of mental illness.”
The health centre has already offered vaccines to those eligible at its clinic in central Edmonton back in March. Since then, pop-up clinics have been run across the city.
Theresa, received her first dose at a pop-up clinic run by the non-profit.
“I go there for my mail or my medical appointments, so I was really surprised they had the vaccination,” she said.
“I feel better (after having it),” she added.
In northeast and downtown Edmonton, immunization rates are lagging behind by as much as 15 per cent compared to other city neighbourhoods.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) is pledging to help close that gap.
“We’re looking at a province-wide approach that those areas with high cases and low immunization,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday. “We’re looking at what the barriers are and then looking at ways to most effectively address those barriers.”