Gundersen Health System administers Johnson & Johnson vaccine to homeless

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Staff at Gundersen Health System are leaving the clinic to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the community’s most vulnerable populations.

The Salvation Army address never changes, but that’s not the case for the people who call the shelter home. One reason why Gundersen Health System staff left their exam rooms tset up a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in the shelter lobby. “It’s a group of people who are less likely to keep their space if they do get COVID, or if they’re exposed to someone who has COVID,” says resident physician, Will Klein. 

These patients are among the first in the LCrosse area to receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The only one dose vaccine available in the U.S. And the practical one for shelter residents like Jordan Hughes. Jordan hopes a month from now, when he would have received the 2nd dose of the other COVID-19 vaccines, he’s living on his own and away from the shelter. “Just to not have to worry about COVID”, says Hughes. 

Gundersen staff are also vaccinating homeless families living hotel rooms provided by La Crosse County and the hotel staff who help care for them. “ I wanted it so many times ago. (To) make sure we are healthy and good, and then we can protect some others, too,” says Country Inn & Suites manager Bhamini Patel. 

Gundersen plans to vaccinate 100 people in one day. Reaching people in temporary housing, with a goal of permanently protecting the entire community. “Yeah, and if you think of, the kind of ripple effect that can have, it’s pretty significant,” Dr. Klein says.

Gundersen also plans to send its team to homebound patients to make sure they are vaccinated, too.