The Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition, in partnership with the Hamilton County Health Department and Olivet Baptist Church, will be giving free COVID vaccinations to the Chattanooga homeless population thanks to a generous grant by Blue Cross Blue Shield and disseminated by the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga. The vaccinations will be given on Saturday, May 22, at Olivet Baptist Church at 740 East M.L.K. Blvd. in Chattanooga from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be music, free pizza, and goodie bags at the event.
Nurses with Homeless Healthcare will be on hand at Saturday’s event to administer the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The second dose will be offered June 12. Homeless Healthcare also offers the vaccine free of charge throughout the week at their clinic on 730 E. 11th St. in Chattanooga.
Wendy Winters, Executive Director of the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition, says the homeless population faces unique challenges in regard to COVID and overall, has a hesitancy to get the vaccine. “Homeless individuals are just trying to survive day to day, worried about where their next meal will come from and where they will lay their head at night,” Winters said. “The fear of the side effects of the vaccine in these individuals is understandable considering they don’t have a safe home in which they can recuperate. So, we’re trying to convince them that the complications of actually getting COVID are much worse than the vaccine side effects. But they’re in survival mode and gaining their trust to assure them that the vaccine is safe and side effects are minimal is an uphill battle.” Winters said their partnership with the Community Kitchen and Health Department in implementing stringent COVID-19 precautions this past winter are what prevented a significant outbreak in this population.
The Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition serves as the coordinating agency of the Southeast Tennessee’s homeless response system. To learn more about how to support these efforts, please visit homelesscoalition.org