Homeless Vermonters step up to get COVID shots at vaccination clinic

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 5:32 PM EDT
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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - Some homeless and housing-insecure people in Barre are halfway to being fully vaccinated against COVID.

Three local community-based providers-- Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice, People’s Health & Wellness Clinic, and Good Samaritan Haven-- worked together to set up two vaccination clinics specifically for people without a permanent home this week.

The first clinic was held at the Hilltop Inn on Monday.

By 3 p.m., 30 people had stopped by the hotel for their first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

“I was a little nervous about getting it but it’s been out for a while, so I figured it’s better than taking the chance and getting really sick,” said Ray McKinstry of Barre.

McKinstry is currently staying at the Hilltop Inn, one of the hotels the state is using to house the homeless during the pandemic. He says he got vaccinated to protect himself and his family.

“I have a daughter and I do a lot of stuff with her in the summer, so it’s nice to know I’ll be able to get out and do more things,” he said.

The clinic was also open to hotel staffers.

“We can go anywhere and enjoy. My kids are safe now,” said Jayendrasingh Gil, the manager of the Econo Lodge.

Everyone received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine, which requires a second shot after four weeks.

Clinic organizers say they originally planned to administer the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine but switched gears after the CDC temporarily halted its use two weeks ago.

“It was much easier for these pop-up clinics for folks who might be more transient or have trouble accessing a follow-up appointment,” said Rebecca Goldfinger-Feim, the executive director of the People’s Health and Wellness Clinic.

They say they have resources and plans in place if some people can’t make it for their second appointment.

“That’s what we’re doing, even for today. Theresa is out at the Econo Lodge seeing if she can transport people here for this clinic and she would do the same for the four-week follow-up appointment,” Goldfinger-Feim said. “So we’re hoping these two clinics the next two days will cover most of the folks staying in the motels but if there are gaps, Home Health could go in and set up an appointment at the clinic.”

The next clinic is Tuesday at the old Town Hall in downtown Barre from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. You do not need to register to attend.

Clinic organizers say there are roughly 350 homeless and housing-insecure people in the Barre area.

Related Story:

Berlin, Barre to host pop-up vaccine site for homeless

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