Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust collaborates with Walgreens to provide free flu shots to individuals experiencing homelessness
Pharmacists embed with outreach teams in monthlong effort, beginning September 8
September 8, 2020– Miami, FL – Starting September 8 and continuing throughout the month, the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is collaborating with Walgreens to proactively offer free flu shots to persons experiencing homelessness. Together, along with Trust-supported providers and partners, vaccines will be deployed to persons on the streets, as well as those at quarantine and isolation (Q&I) sites and emergency shelters overseen by the Homeless Trust. The goal is to vaccinate the majority of the homeless population in all areas of Miami-Dade County, from Homestead to Northeast Miami.
Walgreens’ pharmacists will embed themselves within existing mobile COVID-19 testing operations. This large-scale vaccination effort aims to further protect already vulnerable persons from influenza, prevent the spread of the flu to other vulnerable persons, eliminate the confusion that comes from two viruses with similar symptoms, and guard against a dual diagnosis of both the flu and COVID-19, which could increase the risk of severe illness and death of high risk individuals.
The Continuum of Care is also mindful that communities of color, already disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, represent 59% of all persons experiencing homelessness in Miami-Dade. Communities of color are also more likely to have chronic health issues which places them at higher risk of influenza-related complications; proactively offering flu shots through the continuum helps promote equity in our community.
“Walgreens has joined with the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust at a critical point in time bringing additional resources and support to help us continue efforts to keep our homeless healthy. While we have traditionally provided flu vaccines through our clinics and shelters, collaborating with Walgreens is a proactive way to efficiently target those most at risk well before the peak of the flu season,” said Ronald L. Book, Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust.
Walgreens has a long history of supporting communities. This immunization effort is just one example of ways the company provides accessible care for patients and protects communities from vaccine-preventable diseases. For the September outreach in Miami-Dade, Walgreens is implementing additional safety measures that meet or exceed CDC guidelines: pharmacy team members will wear disposable facemasks at all times, follow proper hand hygiene, and use glove procedures typical for immunizations. This effort complements the Homeless Trust’s ongoing COVID-19 testing, resting and tracing programs which begin in March. With more than 6,100 tests performed, the COVID positivity rate is less than 2% among homeless persons.
The Homeless Trust currently works with multiple mobile testing teams, including the Lazarus Project, a specialized outreach team targeting unsheltered persons with severe mental illness who are among the most service resistant. City of Miami Fire Rescue, Camillus Health Concern and Community Health of South Florida have also partnered with the Homeless Trust to ensure continued testing of unsheltered persons experiencing homelessness. The Trust has also established five (5) Q&I locations for impacted populations. Priority populations include those who are COVID-19 positive, including homeless persons pending discharge from area hospitals, individuals in close proximity with those who test positive and other persons at increased risk for severe illness, including seniors 65+. To date, more than 1,100 individuals have been received at Q&I sites.