“I’m not afraid, whatever happens happens,” Thomas said. “That’s just the way it is.”
Those living in congregate care settings began receiving their COVID-19 vaccines on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, as part of Phase One of the state’s vaccination plan.
Included in the congregate care group are arguably the most vulnerable populations—homeless and imprisoned people living in shelters, jails, or prisons.
Pine Street Inn, New England’s largest shelter service provider, began vaccinating shelter guests and staff on Friday with help from the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.
Lyndia Downie, president of Pine Street Inn, said Health Care for the Homeless managed the allotment of doses for shelter guests and staff and are in charge of administering shots of the Moderna vaccine.
Four men and two staff members got their shots in front of cameras on Friday afternoon. Downie said Pine Street Inn has 550 beds and 250 frontline staff who are eligible to get vaccinated. A total of 80 people had signed up to get vaccinated at Pine Street Inn on Friday.
According to WBUR, Health Care for the Homeless also vaccinated a total of 350 people staying and working in the city’s three biggest overnight emergency shelters over the course of three days.
George Thomas, 57, who contracted coronavirus back in October, was among those inoculated. He said he was asymptomatic, meaning his reaction to the virus wasn’t so severe.
The father of two said he was “relieved” after receiving his first dose of the vaccine. He will have to return in a few weeks, or 28 days, for the second, according to the CDC.
“I’m not afraid, whatever happens happens,” Thomas said. “That’s just the way it is.” He was also relieved that the Boston Housing Authority approved his application for housing.
Across the river in Cambridge, a total of 144 people received the Moderna vaccine between Wednesday and Thursday at the Salvation Army shelter and Christ Church meal program, according to a Cambridge Public Health Department spokesperson. Guests and staff living and working in the city-operated Cambridge warming center also received shots on Friday with help from the Cambridge Pandemic Collaborative.
The Collaborative, which is administering the shots, is led by local police, fire, and EMS departments along with the Cambridge Public Health Department, which plans to inoculate people at the Transition Wellness Center at Spaulding Hospital—including guests of the First Korean Church homeless meals program—on Saturday. Around 200 staff and 300 homeless residents are eligible for the vaccine right now, a department spokesperson said.
Staff and guests at the Transition House, Hildebrand Family Self Help, and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) temporary shelters in Cambridge will be vaccinated sometime next week.
In Somerville, the COVID-19 vaccination plan for the homeless and those who work directly with the population began on Thursday, according to Doug Kress, director of the city’s health and human services department. Kress said the vaccination effort is being handled by the City of Somerville Health and Human Services Department along with Health Care for the Homeless.
A total of 50 guests and staff from St. Patrick’s shelter, along with RESPOND, a domestic violence agency, and the Somerville Homeless Coalition got a first dose of the Moderna vaccine. A second vaccine clinic is planned for Tuesday, and they anticipate 20 more individuals will be vaccinated then.
On the prison front, men awaiting trial in Middlesex County and those serving two-and-a-half years or less behind bars began receiving the Moderna vaccine on Thursday, according to the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office. That population includes some men from Somerville and Cambridge.
The Department of Correction, which oversees women prisoners from Middlesex County, deferred all questions to specific jail and prison facilities. We reached out multiple times to a contact at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department; they did not respond to questions regarding their vaccination plan for people being held in Boston, but told The Boston Globe that about one-third of its 932 inmates have agreed to get vaccinated.