PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the coronavirus vaccine rollouts continue in Oregon, it is key that shelter workers receive appropriate doses so they don’t fall ill and have to quarantine for weeks at a time. The health of those workers means they can keep services going for those in need.
So far, hundreds of shelter workers have now been vaccinated for COVID-19. Multnomah County Health hosted a clinic Friday in order to get those shots in the arms of essential workers.
Denis Theriault of the Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services told KOIN 6 News said state officials are working through the vaccination priority list and right now phase 1a is looking at folks who are working in congregate facilities. In Multnomah County, that includes homeless shelter workers, who often must provide close contact to the most vulnerable in our communities.
“We want those folks to be able to keep those services going because if there is an outbreak among shelter staff, for example, we might have to–heaven for forbid we might have to close a shelter if that happened. Or come up with some other kind of planning,” Theriault said.
Workers who are immunized now could help with distribution on down the line as vaccines get expanded to bigger groups of people down the road, he added.
“As we ramp up to do more of the vaccination of the other phases, folks who are in shelters are going to be able to help with that,” Theriault said. “As we expand to the next phases of the vaccination where you got folks who are older or who have underlying health conditions…we know folks who are in our shelters and who are in our streets, they are disproportionately older, they have a lot of underlying health conditions and they’re going to be part of that next phase.”
Public Health and Multnomah County partnered with other agencies in order to get the vaccine out in Friday’s clinic. Officials said it’s good practice in order to do larger clinics in the future.