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Building Vaccine Confidence
Weekly COVID-19 Vaccine Update for Homeless Service Providers – February 18, 2021

As COVID-19 vaccination planning and rollout occurs across the country, it is important to remember that we are engaged in a marathon and not a sprint. All of our partners, staff, and people experiencing homelessness have been affected personally and professionally by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationwide vaccine distribution is new, and we need to acknowledge that and assist each other in planning for equitable distribution practices. If we stay focused and work together, we can reach the goal of providing access to vaccinations for everyone in our communities.

In the coming weeks, we will be releasing a newsletter that is specifically focused on racial equity within vaccine distribution. The goal is to connect the foundation of racial equity that exists in our work to the current vaccine distribution planning. We look forward to engaging with you in this extremely important dialogue.

Actions to Take

  • If people experiencing homelessness are not yet prioritized for the vaccine in your state, begin helping people within your homeless response system who do meet current priority criteria to be vaccinated
  • Engage, educate, and inform people experiencing homelessness and service provider staff, by sharing the materials that have been developed by HUD, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council

Data Collection Options and Alignment with Immunization Information Systems

HUD is providing data collection recommendations to communities and vendors for COVID-19 vaccinations for persons experiencing homelessness. These recommendations will allow for uniformity should data be needed for community-based reporting.

Some communities may opt to exchange data between a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and an Immunization Information System (IIS). IIS are managed by public health systems that may or may not choose to exchange data. Communities looking to implement an exchange should coordinate with their local IIS and HMIS implementations.


The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that when supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine are limited, vaccination should be offered in a phased approach. In the recently updated Interim Guidance for Health Departments: COVID-19 Vaccination Implementation for People Experiencing Homelessness, the CDC emphasizes the importance of vaccinating people experiencing homelessness and that homeless shelter staff are considered essential workers. Some locations may choose to vaccinate people who reside in shelters at the same time as the frontline staff because of their shared increased risk of disease. Whenever possible, vaccination should occur in shelters or settings where people experiencing homelessness frequent, like meal service sites. If this is not possible, Continuums of Care (CoC) and homeless services providers may need to transport shelter clients to vaccination events. This document outlines considerations for transporting people to community settings to be vaccinated.

Medical professionals and other works wearing masks and discussing strategies

Communication Tools

HUD has developed the following flyers that can be posted in your facility and shared with staff and people experiencing homelessness to help address concerns and better understand the possible side effects associated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Also included is a flyer illustrating the first steps communities can take in preparing for vaccine rollout.

Helpful Resources

Please Remember

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone, including staff. The National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) has provided an excellent toolkit to assist you in caring for homeless services staff during the pandemic and vaccination rollout.

Be safe and take care of yourself!

The contents of these materials, except when based on statutory or regulatory authority or law, do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. These materials are intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

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