CEDAR RAPDIS, IA (April 15, 2021) – Mercy Medical Center partnered with local shelters today to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to individuals experiencing homelessness in the Cedar Rapids community.
The effort is part of a community initiative to get vaccinations to those who might have difficulty obtaining them otherwise.
“We realize that people experiencing homelessness may not have phone or internet access to schedule an appointment. Transportation may be another barrier,” said Melissa Cullum, Mercy’s director of community benefit. “We want our community to come out of this pandemic and we can do that by getting the vaccine to as many people as possible.”
Cullum adds that individuals experiencing homelessness often live in congregate settings, which puts them at higher risk for contracting COVID-19. Providing dedicated vaccination clinics for this population is just the right thing to do, she said.
Staff members at local shelters helped spread the word about the April 15 clinic and even walked with some of their clients to the clinic site – at Mercy. The hospital’s centralized location in downtown Cedar Rapids made it a convenient site to serve clients at local shelter houses.
Many of those served at today’s vaccination clinic are clients of the Willis Dady Shelter, Waypoint Services, the Catherine McAuley Transitional Housing Program, Catholic Worker House and Safe Place Foundation. Shelter staff members were also offered vaccinations.
Mercy is holding a similar vaccination clinic on April 20 at the overflow shelter in northwest Cedar Rapids. Follow-up clinics will be scheduled so these individuals can receive their second dose of the vaccine.
Staff members at local shelters estimated that about 200 individuals were interested in receiving a vaccination at one of the two clinic sites. Mercy will continue to work with Linn County Public Health and local shelters to vaccinate individuals who may have missed these opportunities.