Local organizations want to see higher vaccination rates among people experiencing homeless in Gallatin County

Posted at 7:46 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 10:44:00-04

BOZEMAN — The Gallatin City-County Health Department, the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) and Community Health Partners have been working together to make sure those most vulnerable in the community have an opportunity to get a vaccine.

But vaccine uptake among people experiencing homelessness between Gallatin County and Park County isn’t exactly where these groups would like it to be.

“We’ve been able to offer nearly all of our guests the opportunity to get a vaccine; unfortunately, our uptake on it has not been as great as we would have liked,” said HRDC Housing Director Brian Guyer.

Earlier this month, Community Health Partners and HRDC held a vaccine clinic at the Warming Center in Bozeman.

The CEO with Community Health Partners, Lander Cooney, says the organizations will continue to work together to ensure information and vaccines are available.

“That’s a population we’re noticing has some degree of hesitancy as well as facing barriers to accessing points of distribution or other ways you could traditionally get a vaccine,” said Cooney in a press conference earlier this month.

Guyer says roughly 25 percent of HRDC clients experiencing homelessness have been vaccinated either through appointments made through the Health Department or the Community Health Partners clinic.

“In the face of a lot of misinformation that’s flying around and a limited window where we can present the truth and the facts about the value of the vaccine, I’d say that that’s a battle that we’ve been losing,” said Guyer.

Community Health Partners and the HRDC say they will continue with education, outreach and organizing clinics to vaccinate the most vulnerable.

“We will continue to educate our guests about the value of the vaccine. If opportunities to conduct vaccine clinics here at the Warming Center or at any other HRDC location arise, we will probably take advantage of that to try and connect our customers and guests with those vaccines,” Guyer added.

“We will be working on tailoring that effort to sort of the next phase, as we move into warmer weather, we will probably need some different approaches to make sure we reach that population,” said Cooney.