Homeless Barbadians at a City shelter are showing an interest in getting the COVID-19 vaccine, president of the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH), Kemar Saffrey, has said.
BAEH has written to the Ministry of Health to ask for a mobile team of medical professionals to come to the shelter to vaccinate those who want the jab, Saffrey told Barbados TODAY.
He said that given the wave of COVID infections in recent weeks, at least 47 clients at the BAEH’s Spry Street shelter have already indicated to BAEH that they would like the opportunity to get the vaccine, while about 20 remain undecided.
He said at least 10 people have already received doses of the vaccine.
Saffrey said: “We went to our clients and we spoke to them and we asked them questions in relation to if they are interested in getting the vaccine and if they wanted us to facilitate them getting the vaccine. And we are not forcing the clients to take the vaccine, we are giving them a solution.
“Thus far, 47 homeless persons have said yes that they want to take the COVID. We have sent off that request to the Ministry of Health to basically facilitate the clients by having the pop-up bus come to our headquarters. The number has surprised us and it only goes to show how much persons are really interested in taking this vaccine.”
The advocate for the homeless said while there are an estimated 100 homeless individuals in The City, the 47 who have already confirmed that they are willing to take the vaccine is a significant feat for the COVID-19 fight.
He reminded that homeless people are also at risk of contracting the viral infection and the BAEH continues to put efforts in place to make sure that there are no clusters among its clients.
Saffrey said: “Some of our clients have different comorbidities and health issues, so we encourage them. We have a doctor on board with us for anyone who has a question about COVID or the vaccine that we can’t answer. She would guide us accordingly. We are trying to get persons vaccinated within our community.
“The homeless cannot catch anything is a foolish statement to make because COVID has not shown that it respects any one person according to their class and creed. We want Barbadians to see that they are human beings and that they can catch it like anybody else.”
He explained that in order for clients to use the shelter; they must undergo random screening for COVID-19. He said if a client has stayed away from the shelter for more than seven days, they must provide a recent negative COVID-19 test result.
He said: “We keep them protected and we speak with the feeding groups to make sure that they are sanitizing, that they are keeping their distance and that they are doing the things that they are supposed to be doing.
“There have been no positive cases that we have known about among the homeless and if there are, we would not have been informed. None of our guys has been saying anything about anyone testing positive either and that’s a good thing”. (AH)