SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Several entities within the city of Sioux Falls have come together to get COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of a group that may have a hard time getting the shot on their own.
Adrienne Swift and Kevin Plendel are guests at the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House in Sioux Falls. They’ve both received their two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
“It’s a relief to get it. And, you know, I’m just hoping that we don’t have to wear these things anymore [points to mask],” Swift said.
“Now I know I can be around other people that may or may not have it and most likely won’t catch it,” Plendel said.
The Sioux Falls Health Department has been working with organizations like the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House to get underserved populations in the city vaccinated.
“We’ve got a great community effort happening, right, starting with the support of our health care systems because they’re actually providing us with the vaccine so that we can work with our community partners and do on-site vaccination opportunities for our underserved populations that struggle a bit with transportation and access to services,” Sandy Frentz, the city’s Public Health Manager said.
In February, the city’s health department held a vaccination clinic at the nearby Banquet.
“We were able to get about 125 of our guests vaccinated and typically we have about 150 people stay here each night,” Madeline Shields, executive director of BDHH said. “Now, they’re not always the same people because we are a homeless shelter.”
Because of the fluent nature of guests, Shields says they weren’t able to get all 125 people in for their second shots. However, the health department also set up another clinic where they gave the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to 36 more guests.
Shields says it’s been a tough year for the shelter to navigate the pandemic with guests living in very close quarters.
“The people who stay here are very vulnerable,” Shields said. “Many of our guests have health issues, they suffer from mental illness, some of them, they’re immune-compromised.”
She says it was a relief to see the shots provided for her guests.
“We are just grateful that we were able to get our guests vaccinated, our staff vaccinated and our permanent volunteers so that we can get back to normal,” Shields said.
Underserved populations of the city are also able to get health care and the vaccine at the Falls Community Health Clinic located in the Siouxland Health and Human Services Building.