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Vaccine clinics available to Mainers experiencing homelessness

Without a permanent address and a proper ID, it's challenging to register for a COVID-19 vaccine. Now, clinics in Portland are available for people who want one.

PORTLAND, Maine — Without a permanent address, a driver's license, or reliable transportation, it can be a challenge to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine slot. That's why Preble Street Shelter is teaming up with Greater Portland Health to hold vaccine clinics for people experiencing homelessness.

"We're well aware that people experiencing homelessness face a number of barriers," Andrew Bove said. Bove works in the outreach department at Preble Street.

"That population has unique needs and is also particularly vulnerable," he added. 

He also said that the vaccine clinics have been very positive.

"I've experienced very very little vaccine hesitancy," he said.

It's a similar story in Bangor. City officials told NEWS CENTER Maine in an email that Bangor Area Homeless Shelter guests have been able to get vaccines from Bangor Public Health nurses without requiring a photo ID.

Unfortunately for people experiencing homelessness, jumping through hoops like this isn't anything new.

"Many systems you know are not easily accessible for people who experience homelessness," Bove said.

Preble Street's clinics try to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when possible so people don't have to make it in twice, but the FDA's pause on the use of the one-dose shot created a hiccup for their system. Still, officials said they are hoping to get everyone vaccinated who wants to be.

"Among this group of people, they want to be safe, they want to be in charge of their medical care and they want access to the vaccine," Bove said.

While there is no need for a permanent address or valid ID through this specific process, officials at Preble Street said they are still following all the other rules