With California distributing COVID-19 vaccines to high-risk groups, the city of Berkeley temporarily established a mobile clinic in People’s Park and offered vaccines to individuals experiencing homelessness Thursday, as first reported by Berkeleyside.
Those who frequent People’s Park were eligible for receiving the vaccines in a process overseen by LifeLong Medical Care, a care center that provides health and social services to local communities, according to the center’s website. The vaccination site at People’s Park follows the city’s plan in providing vaccines to the unhoused community and staff who assist them, according to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko.
“Last week we did a clinic at BOSS Harrison House and the Safer Ground respite sites,” Chakko said in an email. “This week we will provide a clinic for Dorothy Day House that will also include residents of the STAIR center.”
In providing vaccinations at these sites, Chakko said the city aims to “ensure vaccine equity” by increasing accessibility of vaccines to high-risk individuals who are especially vulnerable to health complications that may arise due to COVID-19.
Erick Morales, a member of the People’s Park Committee, said he was happy to see the vaccines being provided to the community.
As a part of his work with the committee, Morales said he also provides resources including hand sanitizer, masks and gloves to the park’s residents as resources can be difficult to access otherwise.
“This community and population is high-risk because everybody is outside,” Morales said. “A lot of people, not everyone, but a lot of them can’t maintain the best hygiene at the park so it’s nice to help out in this way.”
Being one of the individuals who received the vaccine Thursday, Morales said his experience afterward was relatively mild. Morales added that while he had side effects, such as a slight fever, chest pains, thirst and a lasting headache, the effects did not worsen, and “it wasn’t too bad.” Despite the discomfort, Morales said he was pleased to have received the vaccine.
Although some of the park’s residents may be reluctant to receive the vaccine, Morales noted that a large majority of the community “want the vaccine.”
“I am proud of the community at the park. They took (the pandemic) seriously and separated their tents,” Morales said. “There are so many risks and it made them feel good about getting the vaccine. They just say thank you.”