Boston shelters could begin vaccinating homeless population this week

BOSTON — The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines for the homeless population in Boston could arrive at Pine Street Inn sometime this week.

Dr. Jim O’Connell, president of Boston Health Care for the Homeless, told Boston 25 News that Pine Street Inn and other shelters in the area will begin vaccinating as soon as the first allotment arrives.

He said Boston shelters will be using a triage tool developed by Johns Hopkins University to determine who’s most at risk.

The initial shipment from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is expected to include at least 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

“We’re expecting it’s going to be coming in the next day or two,” said O’Connell. “We’re prepared and ready to respond as soon as we get the doses.”

O’Connell said there are concerns about reaching people for the second dose since most homeless people don’t have phones.

“I think we’ll be able to do a pretty good job at getting to most people with the trust we’ve earned at the shelters,” said O’Connell.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health included people at shelters and in congregate settings on the high priority list to get vaccinated.

“The state has made a very wise choice in saying we need to immunize those folks who will be wandering around town and have no place to go,” added O’Connell. “These are people who will both be exposed to the virus in places they go and then eventually expose people when they walk other places.”

Boston 25 News reported on the universal testing results at Pine Street Inn during the first surge of the virus.

Those stunning results revealed nearly 40 percent of the shelter’s population at the time, 146 people, were positive.

The majority never experienced any symptoms.

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