Promoting vaccine awareness for people experiencing homelessness

Sacramento Steps Forward (SSF) is working in close coordination with the Sacramento County Public Health Department and community partners to encourage people experiencing homelessness to get COVID-19 vaccines as they become available. 

For people experiencing homelessness, issues such as mobility, mistrust of the vaccine, inability to have a place to recover from vaccine symptoms, and the daily focus on meeting immediate needs for food and shelter can act as barriers to getting inoculated. At the same time, people experiencing homelessness may be more susceptible to chronic health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. 

To increase vaccination rates, SSF is taking part in the COVID-19 Community Health Project (CCHP), a state-wide initiative facilitated by The Center at Sierra Health Foundation in collaboration with the California Department of Social Services. The project supports our most vulnerable communities by providing information about how to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and build vaccine confidence. 

We are using educational materials developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of California to promote this effort through targeted outreach and social media campaigns. This work is supported by the Sierra Health Foundation grant. 

“As the Sacramento County Department of Public Health begins vaccinating people experiencing homelessness, we want to make sure that we are coordinating with the network that is already supporting people on a daily basis, so we can meet people where they are and provide the necessary resources that will address people’s concerns and decrease vaccine hesitancy,” said SSF’s Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer Ya-yin Isle. 

For this project, we’re partnering with the South Sacramento Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART), Community Lead Advocacy Program (CLAP), Humanitarian Action Network, Sacramento Homeless Union/ Sac SOUP, and Show Up. 

These partner volunteer organizations will recruit people experiencing homelessness to act as trusted leaders within encampments and shelters to continue to carry the COVID-19 prevention and mitigation message, particularly around building vaccine confidence.

SSF will offer monthly training for our partner organizations, other interested volunteer organizations, and homeless service providers to address barriers to vaccination and factors contributing to vaccine hesitancy. 

We are also teaming up with Sacramento Covered to launch educational social media campaigns targeted toward people experiencing homelessness, as well as providers and volunteers.

By working with our partners and people experiencing homelessness in our community, we can build trust and awareness to ensure the health and safety of our most vulnerable neighbors.

To view our toolkits and find out more about participating, view our webpage.