People experiencing homelessness, like others, may have limited access to information about the COVID-19 vaccine and/or may have concerns about its safety or effectiveness. Homeless advocates are uniquely positioned to help people experiencing homelessness explore underlying beliefs and fears about the vaccine, promote vaccine confidence, and promote vaccination.
Vaccination hesitancy - the delay or refusal of available vaccine services - is common and experienced by many people, regardles of their housing status. People experiencing homelessness may be at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 but misinformation, histories of discrimination, and prior negative experiences with medical services can cause mistrust in the vaccine.
Our toolkit provides resources and tools prepares homeless advocates to provide accurate vaccine education and engage in trauma-informed discussions about the vaccines with people experiencing homelessness.
Introduction: Overview of the toolkit and purpose, commonly used terms, and contributors.
Chapter 1 - Vaccine Ambassadorship: Introduction to vaccine ambassadorship and the important role that homeless advocates can play in building vaccine confidence and uptake among people experiencing homelessness.
Key Concepts: Vaccine Ambassadorship, Helping People Experiencing Homelessness Build Vaccine Confidence, and Role of Homeless Advocates and Medical Professionals.
Chapter 2 - COVID-19 Basics: Basic information about SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 illness, and risk management.
Key Concepts: COVID-19 Symptoms, Influenza and COVID-19, Transmission and Prevention, Precautions for People Experiencing Homelessness.
Chapter 3 - COVID-19 Vaccines: General information about currently available COVID-19 vaccines.
Key Concepts: How COVID-19 Vaccines Work, Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness, Vaccine Comparison, Getting Vaccinated, What to Expect After Vaccination.
Chapter 4 - Vaccine Hesitancy: An introduction to vaccine hesitancy, common concerns expressed by people experiencing homelessness, and the relationship between racial trauma and vaccine hesitancy.
Key Concepts: Understanding Vaccine Hesitancy, Misinformation, Perception of Risk, Vaccine Safety, Mistrust, Medical Concerns, Vaccine Side Effects, Racial Trauma, Religious/Spiritual Concerns.
Chapter 5 - Promoting Vaccine Confidence: Tailored strategies to address common vaccine concerns among people experiencing homelessness, and sample responses to those concerns using messages that are proven to work.
Key Concepts: Core Values, Tips for Talking About Vaccines, Responding to Common Vaccine Concerns, Respecting "No" and Harm Reduction.
A Note of Gratitude to Our Partners
This toolkit and the approach described within it has been developed with generous input and guidance from health professionals and homeless advocates in Pima County, Arizona. TPCH would like to thank Jason Thorpe, Austin Puca, and Kat Jacobs (City of Tucson); Dr. Theresa Cullen, Kat Davis, and Jen Wagner (Pima County Health Department); Sharon Dipasupil, Janie Villareal, Luis Murillo, and Dr. Joy Mockbee (El Rio Community Health Center); Tom Hill and Rick McCallum (CCHS Foundation); Sharon Francis (La Frontera Centers); Emma Hockenberg (Primavera Foundation); Margaret Adams (Corporation for Supportive Housing); and Linda Jensen (Arizona Housing Coalition) for their invaluable contributions to this project.
Sections of this toolkit have been adapted and/or directly sourced from public materials developed by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), HUD Community Compass Technical Assistance teams, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Certified Community Health Specialists (CCHS) Foundation, and MHP Salud. We are grateful to benefit from the work of these organizations and institutions, and privileged to share it with the community of homeless advocates working to promote vaccine confidence among people experiencing homelessness.