Ross County health department traveling to homeless encampments to offer COVID-19 vaccine

Local News

ROSS COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) — There’s a new push to get more people to roll up their sleeves, and it’s not going to be easy.

However, one central Ohio county is trying its best to continue the fight against COVID-19.

The Ross County Health District (RCHD) has been bringing COVID-19 vaccinations directly to homeless encampments throughout the county.

Along with vaccinations, RCHD employees are also providing the homeless population with Naloxone, mosquito/bug spray, hygiene kits, food, and clean water.

“So far, we’ve been able to vaccinate 25 of those individuals,” said Michaela Weaver, a health communication specialist with RCHD.

Weaver said a lot of this effort to vaccinate homeless people is in partnership with the Ross County Community Action Commission. One thing they’ve found is that some in the homeless population have the same thoughts and concerns others have about vaccines.

“There’s hesitancy to get the vaccine,” said Julie Bolen, executive director of Ross County Action Community.

However, by physically going to the encampments, they hope they can change the narrative about vaccines for homeless people.

Bolen said it’s hard to give an accurate number as to how many homeless people live in Ross County, but in 2020, Ross County Action Community did see a steady flow of people coming through their doors asking for assistance in general.

That fluctuation is why they are trying to get many of the people they run into vaccinated with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“They don’t have the availability to go to different places, different clinics,” Weaver said. “Maybe they don’t know about the different clinics. It’s why it’s important for us to go to them.”

Weaver said if the weather permits, they try to go every Thursday to different parts of Ross County where they know they’re most likely to come across homeless areas.

“More counties need to be doing it,” Weaver said. “Our homeless population is our community. We need to treat them with as much compassion and care as we treat everyone else.”

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