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Looking ahead to the next vaccine eligible group including the homeless population

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Right now, Riverside County is currently in Phase 1B Tier 1 of their vaccination rollout plan. Although Riverside County Public Health spokesperson, Jose Arballo said to News Channel 3 on Monday they plan to stay in this tier for a while they are currently looking ahead to how the next vaccination tier will look.

Phase 1B Tier 2 includes frontline essential workers, including manufacturing, transportation, facilities and services. It also includes homeless and incarcerated people.

News Channel 3's Caitlin Thropay spoke with Mark McGowan, the program coordinator at the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission (CVRM) who said they're already working with the County to prepare for vaccinating the homeless population.

According to the Riverside County 2020 Point in Time survey, they counted 2,884 people in the County's homeless population. There was no survey conducted in 2021 due to the pandemic.

CVRM has already vaccinated their 65 and older homeless population at the mission.

"We worked with the County of Riverside and we collaborated SAC Health System of Loma Linda and they were able to come and use our chapel of course we had social distancing, we have all the CDC guidelines involved and we were able to vaccinate the first few people here at the mission already," McGowan said.

After the success of that, the mission said they'll do it all the same when the County gives them the green light to vaccinate the rest of their residents.

"We've been very active to make sure they all have IDs, they have insurance and SAC Health has helped us make sure everyone has MediCal and Medicare," McGowan said.

The mission also has an outreach team going out into the valley three times a week educating homeless people on the vaccine.

"We let them know when it is available at the mission please come to the mission we will transport you there and back," he said.

McGowan said they're getting lots of positive feedback from the homeless population.

"Interesting enough is everybody is willing a lot more than you think," he said.

Caryn Finhill is one of those in the next tier. She's staying at the mission and said she's ready to get the vaccine.

"I firmly believe that everybody should be vaccinated particularly when we're in large groups like this," Finhill said. "They've taken great care of us here it's amazing," she added.

Right now, the County has not said when we will move into the next tier.

"It's so important that we take care of their health and educate them that it's a safe practice and we'd highly suggest it but at the end of the day it's their decision but we're here to support whatever decision they want but we are going to make it readily available to them so they can be as safe moving forward through this pandemic," McGowan said.

Stay with News Channel 3 on air and online for updates.

Coronavirus / News Headlines / Top Stories

Caitlin Thropay

Caitlin Thropay is the Weekend Morning Anchor and Lifestyle Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News Leader. Learn more about Caitlin here.

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