19 Organizations Reach Goal of 100% Access to COVID-19 Vaccination in Nashville for Persons Experiencing Homelessness

Dr. Pete Cathcart of Neighborhood Health’s Street Medicine Team administering COVID-19 vaccine to Deng Autiak in Nashville. (Courtesy Photo)
Dr. Pete Cathcart of Neighborhood Health’s Street Medicine Team administering COVID-19 vaccine to Deng Autiak in Nashville. (Courtesy Photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn., – The Metro Public Health Department, Neighborhood Health, and St. Thomas Health led a collaborative effort of 19 organizations that began in early April with a goal of reaching 100 percent access to the COVID-19 vaccine for persons in Nashville experiencing homelessness.

“As a result of this collaborative effort, Nashville is the first city in the nation to ensure that all persons experiencing homelessness had real access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Gill Wright, Interim Chief Medical Officer for the Metro Public Health Department. “The Health Department provided the foundation for success during the ice storms that occurred in February.  Facing weather-related cancellations of planned vaccination events, the Department took hundreds of doses of the Pfizer vaccine to the Nashville Rescue Mission, Room in the Inn, and emergency shelters.”

The Health Department, Saint Thomas Ascension, and Neighborhood Health later offered the vaccine at a number of encampments and service provider sites. Neighborhood Health subsequently did multiple “second pass” vaccination events at most of these locations to ensure all willing individuals could get vaccinated.

“Most importantly, Nashville has achieved a vaccination rate among persons experiencing homelessness that appears to be higher than the general adult population in Nashville,” said Brian Haile, Chief Executive Officers for Neighborhood Health.  “We estimate at least 60% of persons experiencing homelessness are now fully vaccinated, and the number continues to increase each week.  This success illustrates the ability of communities to achieve impressive rates of vaccination among vulnerable populations through expanded access and concerted education.”

Working with a broad consortium of service providers, MPHD and Neighborhood Health provided onsite vaccinations at larger encampments, including Centennial Park, Jefferson Street Bridge, Old Tent City, Green Street Church, and other locations.  Neighborhood Health continues to provide COVID-19 vaccinations on weekdays at the Downtown Clinic and during Street Medicine visits to these locations and encampments.

The following organizations were partners in the collaboration providing support for the outreach initiative:

  • Colby’s Army
  • Community Care Fellowship
  • The Contributor
  • Crescent Community Health
  • The Little Pantry That Could
  • Mental Health Coop
  • Metro Homeless Impact Division /Metro Social Services
  • Metro Public Health Department
  • Nashville Rescue Mission
  • Nashville Street Project
  • Neighborhood Health
  • Oasis Center
  • Open Table Nashville
  • Park Center
  • People Loving Nashville
  • Room in the Inn
  • Saint Thomas Health/Ascension
  • Shower the People
  • ShowerUp
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