The Salt Lake Tribune News: Hundreds of unhoused people have received COVID-19 vaccines in Salt Lake City

March 05, 2021

The Fourth Street Clinic says it has given 211 COVID-19 vaccines to people experiencing homelessness since the Salt Lake County Health Department first gave vaccines to the clinic in January.

Laurel Ingham, development director at the clinic, said the clinic is giving out an average of about 10 doses a day. Vaccines have been distributed at the clinic’s headquarters at 409 W. 400 South and through other homeless resource centers in Salt Lake County.

Ingham said the clinic’s nurses have done a good job asking every patient who comes to the clinic if they would like a vaccine. Vaccine priority is allotted based on state guidelines, which currently prioritizes people over 65 and those with certain pre-existing conditions.

“The (health department) has been great in providing us with Moderna doses and we have not any issues in getting those,” she said in an email. “Our staff has worked hard to get doses in arms and have not wasted any from a vial.”

Ingham said the clinic is hoping to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine moving forward because it requires only one dose, making it easier to distribute.

So far, 59 second doses of the Moderna vaccine have been given to unhoused people in Salt Lake City through the clinic. Ingham said there are 22 people who should have come back for their second dose and didn’t, but some of them were only supposed to come back on Monday and don’t yet count as overdue.

Ingham said the clinic should be able to get the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine directly from the manufacturer as a federally qualified health center.

People experiencing homelessness don’t have to get vaccines through the clinic. Unhoused people over 65 or those with qualifying pre-existing conditions are entitled to make appointments through the county or at pharmacies like the general public.

COVID-19 cases among unhoused people

A Wednesday COVID-19 report from the county says a total of 7,031 tests have been given to unhoused people. There are currently 10 active, positive cases and 949 recovered cases of COVID-19 among unhoused people, according to the report. A Feb. 24 report from the county said there were 11 active, positive cases among unhoused people.

COVID-19 has posed a particular danger to unhoused people because it is hard to social distance in shelters and it is difficult to wash one’s hands frequently in encampments. Salt Lake County shelters experienced COVID-19 outbreaks in September. Two people died after an October outbreak in an Ogden shelter.

Data from the Salt Lake County Health Department shows a decrease in outbreaks at homeless resource centers over the past few months.

The Salt Lake Tribune article can be found here:

COURTESY PHOTO / Salt Lake Tribune