Mobile clinic brings COVID vaccine to people who are housebound, homeless

Sanguen Health Centre’s Kathy McKenna (left) and Erika Liban are nurses who will be delivering the COVID-19 vaccine this week to those facing homelessness across Waterloo region. (Submitted by: Erika Liban)

Mobile teams in Waterloo region are offering the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable groups including housebound home-care patients and people facing homelessness; people who can’t easily make it to public health’s vaccination clinics.

Staff with Sanguen Health Centre, in partnership with the Inner City Health Alliance, are providing vaccine clinics at various locations across the region through the centre’s Mobile Health Bus.

“The opportunity to deliver the vaccine to individuals who likely don’t have the ability or capacity to get it, is invaluable,” said Erika Liban, a nurse practitioner with Sanguen Health. She and her colleague Kathy McKenna are teaming up to deliver the vaccine.

“It’s an amazing feeling being able to offer that.”

The bus is scheduled to be at A Better Tent City on Lot 42 on Tuesday and Thursday. The bus will also make several stops through the week at other hotels and motels in the region, in a bid to reach others who are homeless or precariously housed.

McKenna said they’re also providing access to other health care services, in addition to delivering the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’re able to break down the barriers and meet people where they’re at to keep them healthy,” she said.

“Having both Erika and I, and the other regular team members out and being able to offer these clinics is key because people already know us and trust us.”

Insp. Jen Davis, a member of the Region of Waterloo’s vaccine task force, says the different types of vaccination clinics available in the region, such as fixed sites and mobile or pop-up clinics, aim to meet the needs of everyone in the community.

“The benefit that we have is that there are health teams that are already serving this community,” Davis said during a Region of Waterloo Public Health briefing on Friday.

“We know that’s one way we can track to be able to get them their second dose when that time comes.”

Region of Waterloo Public Health says it has fully-vaccinated 14,179 people as of March 22 — accounting for 2.41 per cent of the local population. A total of 57,185 people have received a single shot of the COVID-19 vaccine — representing 7.3 per cent of people in Waterloo region.

Public health says it is beginning pre-registration of Phase 2, as it completes Phase 1 vaccinations.

Staff with Sanguen Health Centre are providing vaccine clinics at various locations across the region including A Better Tent City on Lot 42 in Kitchener. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)

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