SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Frontline and key workers at homeless shelters have requested to be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations. It worked in several cases.
Julissa Patino is the Housing Coordinator at HomeFirst, a homeless service provider in San Jose. She says social distancing at work just isn’t an option.
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“Most of the time I have to see people physically. Most people don’t have phones so we couldn’t coordinate Zoom meetings, ”said Patino.
She has had COVID-19 before and feared she might get it again.
“Luckily I didn’t get it too bad, but it’s a little scary to work here knowing I can get it back and putting these people at risk for having underlying health conditions,” she said.
Patino’s boss moved in Santa Clara County that HomeFirst’s key employees be placed on the priority list for Covid-19 vaccinations.
The county agreed.
“Hopefully I can get vaccinated in the next few weeks,” said Patino.
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San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church does the same for its frontline workers serving the homeless.
“If we can provide the vaccine to these people who provide these safety net services, it will create safety for all residents of San Francisco, both sheltered and sheltered,” said Kenneth Kim, senior director of programs at Glide Memorial Church.
State guidelines use animal shelter workers in Phase 1B Tier 2. Right now we are in phase 1A, which has three levels: first come healthcare workers and long-term care residents, then people over 65, educators and farm workers.
The state has also started vaccinating people in Phase 1B Tier One. The shelter workers are scheduled to be next in line, but many have not yet heard a schedule of when it will be their turn.
“No, nobody spoke to us, nobody said anything to us. We have no idea when that would happen, ”said Wesley Dawan, an East Oakland Collective volunteer.
Dawan supplies books for the collective, but also spends time in camps connecting people to services.
“You have no idea who was where. So you take the precautions, stay three feet apart, put the mask on, and do what you can with it, ”Dawan said.
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“They basically risk their lives and go to work every day,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, the executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness.