KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Care Beyond the Boulevard had to make quick adjustments Tuesday to get vaccines into the arms of those experiencing homelessness after learning of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine's pause in the U.S.
KK Assmann, the group's founder, first told 41 Action News several weeks ago that she had been reaching out to hospitals and health departments to secure vaccines for several weeks.
Following reports of blood clots in six people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that providers pause distribution of the single-dose vaccine.
Care Beyond the Boulevard is made up of health care workers who volunteer their time and skills to regularly provide health care to people experiencing homelessness.
Several clinics are planned this week to vaccinate people like 22-year-old Mickey Kissell.
"It's exciting," Kissell said. "I've been hearing about it a lot for what seems like almost a year."
Had it not been for the organization, Kissell said he would have nowhere else to receive it.
The Jackson County Health Department and Moffet Drug, a pharmacy in Assmann's hometown of Norton, Kansas, donated vaccines to the organization, according to Assmann.
"It's such a wonderful thing to be able to do," Assmann said. "We had a patient last week when we were taking names saying do you want the vaccine, she said to us 'I thought that everybody had forgotten about us', and that's why we do what we do because we don't forget about people."
Health care workers from Norton County Hospital made the five-hour drive to Kansas City to help administer vaccines, including Dr. Glenda Maurer.
"We had vaccinated all of the people who wanted the vaccine in Norton County and realized we had excess," Maurer said, "and so we felt like this was a match made in heaven."
The organization's online record system allows it to keep track of patients' records. They give everyone who receives a dose a vaccine card and save a copy of it in the system in case it is lost or stolen.
Care Beyond the Boulevard will do the same route in four weeks for second doses of Moderna and has communicated that to the people who received first doses this week.
The group's work doesn't go unnoticed by people like Laron Sipes, who received his first dose Tuesday.
"It means a lot to me because a lot of people don't have help, but we have help down here in Kansas City, Missouri," Sipes said.
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