Vaccination clinic at San Jose City Hall targets homeless population

A vaccination clinic at San Jose City Hall on Friday targeted the homeless population.

But before they could begin, volunteers had to convince the homeless to come.

And so people like Geneva Strickland, spent days in the San Jose encampments, offering education and encouragement.

"We can talk to them because I've been homeless myself for six years so I'm able to relate to them. And I see their points and it just helps out. I feel a little more comfortable and they get a little more comfortable talking to me I think," says volunteer Geneva Strickland.

Then there were logistics to think about. Local leaders, in partnership with the group Asian Americans for Community Involvement sent buses to pick people up.

"They're in different locations, different encampments. And so it's hard to get them to these centralized locations. And that's why getting the buses to bring them here is critical," says California State Assembly Member Ash Kalra.

And they'll have to do it twice. With the Johnson and Johnson one dose vaccine on hold, the clinic pivoted to using Moderna.

That means they'll have to find an often transient population for a second shot.

"But even having one shot of the Moderna vaccine is better than having no shots at all. So there's some protection with that. So to the extent that we're able to bring people back, we will make every effort to do that," says Sarita Kohli, CEO of Asian Americans for Community Involvement.

Santa Clara County is also bringing shots into the encampments.

The Valley Homeless Healthcare program has administered more than 1600 vaccinations to date.

490- first doses, 333 second doses and 847 of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

They have a mobile van but also utilize what they call "backpack teams".

"It's really helpful for us to go to multiple sites cause we've had clients say you know I was really on the fence, but since you're here I'm going to get it. So it's kind of nice to meet them where they are," says Kristine Rouse, of the Valley Homeless Healthcare Program.

The goal throughout the county is to vaccinate as many as possible in this vulnerable population.

The City Hall clinic offered wraparound services, even help filing for stimulus checks for those who showed up.

They're hopeful the success of this event bodes well for the next one.

"We need to be creative for the second shot in having new incentives for people to come and do this," says Shaunn Cartwright, of the Unhoused Response Group.

Officials say they administered more than 500 shots on Friday. The follow up clinic will be held on May 14.