Hope for the homeless in the pandemic

City Covid-19 Health Top Story

Residents of homeless shelters who are above the age of 60 years and have comorbidities are being vaccinated for Covid19, even if they don’t have the required documents.

Bangalore: Valsya, a woman in her 60s, is one of the first people who is going to be vaccinated for Covid-19 in Abhayashram, a privately owned shelter, where she is currently residing. She is still waiting for her children to take her home. Though she didn’t receive the care she expected from her family, she is not being ignored by the shelter.  

Homeless shelters are providing vaccination to the people who have been neglected by their loved ones. Many of them don’t have Aadhar cards or the documents that are required for the vaccination, but, say people who run these shelters, that won’t come in the way.

“The Accredited Social Health Worker (ASHA) workers come here to do the Covid-19 test. The government officials have taken the necessary steps which are required for the vaccination procedure. It will be carried out in the following months,” said Joby Jacob Varghese, the executive director of Abhyashram (Vision India). 

Necessary precautions have been maintained in the shelters. People from outside are not allowed, and even if they are,  sanitisers are provided to them before entering the premises. Masks are made mandatory and the ones residing in the shelters are not allowed to go outside. 

Nityananda Nayak,  project in charge of Vidyaranya NGO, said that the doctors and the healthcare workers are coming every month for the Covid test. They have also been registered for the vaccination.  “We have to prioritize the vaccination in our shelter as we have people who are above the age of 60. Regarding documents, as it is done from a shelter, nothing as such is required for the procedure,” said Nayak. 

For A.i.R. Humanitarian Homes, the vaccination is being given to the frontline healthcare workers and the medical professionals before the residents. 

“We are giving the vaccination to the medical team first. After that, the residents will be given the vaccination. The officials are coming and the registration procedure is being carried out,” said Pamela Pillay who is the chief of service of AiR Humanitarian home. 

She added, “Some of them have documents like Aadhar cards for the vaccination. But for the others, we have to talk to the government officials. They are in touch with us regarding this.” 

Dr. M B Ramamurthy,  assistant professor of Community Medicine at Bangalore Medical College, stressed the importance of the health of the residents at these shelters. “Since they were deprived of the necessities, they might have untreated comorbidities. A cardiac and diabetes profile should be done before the vaccination,” said the doctor. 

Even though many of the homeless shelters have been registered for the vaccination, some of them have been reluctant to register. Lissy Gregory, who is the founder of Navachetana, said vaccination is not required for her organization.

 “We have twelve women here and after the pandemic, we haven’t allowed them to go out. We are also not taking any admission from outside,” said Lissy.  

She added, “They’ll get frightened if we give them the vaccine as they have a psychological illness. But Covid tests are carried out almost every month.”