SALT LAKE CITY—Fourth Street Clinic began offering doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals experiencing homelessness. Salt Lake County Health Department allocated 80 doses of the vaccine to Fourth Street Clinic late January, increasing access to the vaccine for vulnerable populations in the county. The clinic serves vulnerable and low-income populations in Utah, the majority of these experiencing homelessness.
Janida Emerson, CEO of Fourth Street Clinic, says the first wave of vaccines will be at the clinic downtown for those 70 and over.
“It’s difficult enough for someone experiencing homelessness to access basic health services, like getting vaccinated,” Emerson said. “Asking someone without transportation to drive to a county vaccination site ultimately means they won’t get the vaccine. We asked the county to allocate doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to increase access to those most affected by the virus.”
Fourth Street Clinic now offers the COVID-19 vaccine to patients 70 and over at their downtown site. The clinic’s Mobile Health Care program also takes the vaccine to the homeless resource centers and other locations to clients 70 and over.
Emerson says any remaining vaccines will be tiered for those with underlying health conditions; any clients at the homeless resource centers willing to be vaccinated; any unvaccinated staff members at community partner sites; and household members of Fourth Street Clinic staff providing direct patient care. Clinic staff received their first round of the COVID-19 vaccine at the end of December.
Fourth Street Clinic’s 2020 Pandemic Response
Fourth Street Clinic performed more than 10,000 COVID-19 tests in 2020, playing a key role in mitigating the spread of the virus among those in community shelter and camping outside. The added workload put a strain on providers and staff at Fourth Street Clinic; Janida Emerson says the clinic is trying to secure additional staffing to help vaccinate the state’s most vulnerable population.
“We really need to focus on widening the pool of who gets the vaccine, rather than double up on what the county is already doing,” said Emerson. “This will really be an ‘all hands on deck’ approach, but we’re excited to play our part in this.”
When you donate to Fourth Street Clinic, you put high quality health care into the hands of homeless Utahns.