FLORENCE, Ala. — It’s no secret that The Shoals has a large homeless population. Different centers and shelters across the area are often near or at capacity.
Throughout the pandemic, possible virus transmission has been a concern among the shelter community. Centers like the Salvation Army of the Shoals resorted to preventative care like masking and social distancing as best they could.
With vaccine eligibility now expanded to include most people ages 16 and older in the state, one question raised was how can people of the homeless population get vaccinated to ease concerns inside of shelters?
The Alabama Department of Public Health said planning for COVID-19 vaccines in homeless populations is an important part of the pandemic response. Local entities that provide services to the homeless are engaged in vaccine planning for this population—like at Crossroads Community Outreach in Florence.
Crossroads Lead Coordinator Peter Chevalier said they will be handing out flyers to the guests with information about vaccinations including where they can receive one—but he said it will take encouraging words to get some to go.
“Some of them are stubborn,” Chevalier said. “We try to get them, as much as we can, to understand it’s good for you.”
Justin Braxton struggles with homelessness and said getting vaccinated is just one more step on the road to getting back on his feet.
“I would like to be vaccinated so that I’m prevented from becoming sicker, and just to know that my health is in the direction and course it needs to go in for my education,” Braxton said.
Another questioned raised was what if homeless individuals don’t have identification. Several providers in The Shoals have said they won’t be turning away recipients because of that.