THD: Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Game-Changer For Tulsa’s Homeless Population

Monday, March 8th 2021, 9:11 pm
By: Amy Avery

TULSA, Okla. -

A key focus in Tulsa County is on getting COVID-19 vaccines to the city’s homeless population.

The health department said Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has been a game-changer since it only requires one dose.

The Tulsa Health Department said they received a large supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week and wanted to work quickly to get them to Tulsa's most vulnerable population.

"They become vulnerable just simply not having a safe place to be,” said Tulsa Day Center Executive Director Mack Haltom.

Haltom said 30-night shelter residents received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Friday. He said having the single dose vaccine is very helpful, because returning for a second dose could be problematic.

“Because our folks are so transient sometimes moving from one shelter to the other or whatever their case may be, I was concerned about them getting that second vaccination,” said Haltom.

500 of the Johnson & Johnson doses from the Tulsa Health Department went to Morton Comprehensive Health. Morton has a clinic behind the Salvation Army and has been working with the shelters to get Tulsa's most vulnerable population vaccinated.

"They're very excited about getting the vaccine and they're ready to get it. In fact, we had a little line out here this morning, it was like what's going on out there?” said Dr. Paula Rowan.

Dr. Paula Rowan said they can vaccinate five people with each vial of the vaccine, so scheduling is everything.

Nurse Easter Nathan said they've also helped answer questions about the vaccine and ease concerns.

“They ask ‘what are the side effects, do I need to be worried about whatever,’” said Nathan. “We tell them no, take Tylenol and look for symptoms and if you need to, keep taking the Tylenol.”

Both Dr. Rowan and Easter say they've formed great relationships with Tulsa's homeless while working downtown but said it's an amazing feeling knowing you're helping protect them too.

"I wouldn't be anywhere else than serving this community,” said Dr. Rowan.

The Health Department said they expect to get another shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccines in late March.