Vaccination stock

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Reach for Home, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Healthcare Foundation, Cheryl Fox Associates, Sonoma County Medical Associates, Healdsburg Shared Ministries and the Healdsburg Rotary are teaming up to hold a Johnson & Johnson vaccination event for the shelterless community on April 30 at St. Paul’s from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event will include a give-away of refresh items such as new tents, tarps and sleeping bags and if folks choose to get vaccinated they’ll have the option of spending the night at St. Paul’s in order to have a warm place to rest and relax, have a hot meal and a breakfast in the morning courtesy of the above organizations.

The shower ministry will be on site and participants can get a $25 gift certificate.

Margaret Sluyk, the executive director for Reach for Home, said they chose to utilize the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine since it can be difficult for folks in the shelterless community to schedule a second appointment and for folks to get transportation to a second dose appointment.

According to Sluyk, they have 20 doses secured for the event.

“There is an incredible passion to help break through vaccine hesitancy and barriers within the unsheltered community to get vaccinated,” Sluyk said. “We thought  if we had an event where we gave away those items (tents, tarps, sleeping bags) that it would draw people in and if people saw others getting the vaccine there it might make them more comfortable in getting the shot.”

She said the goal is to create a comfortable environment where folks can get the vaccine if they so choose.

Sluyk said she doesn't know how many people to expect at the event, but if they can get the vaccine into the arms of a few people then it will still be a success.

“It would be a really successful event if we could get a couple people to get shots in their arms,” she said. “We want to help the community to feel more comfortable with getting vaccines.”

She said vaccination rates in the shelterless population are definitely lower than in other populations.

Ahead of the April 30 event local shelterless community advocate Gail Jonas will be handing out flyers for the event and Reach for Home’s vocational nurse has been out in the community working on getting out more vaccine education and information to people.

“It is so refreshing to see all of these people come together to help get this off the ground. It is hard for the shelterless community to make appointments and even to get to appointments,” Sluyk said.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church at 209 Matheson, St., Healdsburg.

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