Vinnies Vax Van hits the streets

Vinnies Vax Van hits the streets

30 Sep 2021

Shortly following commencement of the vaccination roll-out across our State, St Vincent’s Vaccination and homeless health teams identified barriers that were precluding vulnerable groups in our community from easily gaining access to COVID-19 vaccines and true our Mission, St Vincent’s Vaccination team set out to ensure that vaccine availability is equitable for all of our community members.  Particularly for those, who for many and varied reasons find navigating the public health system challenging. 

People who are experiencing homelessness or living in temporary accommodation or social housing, have less opportunity to isolate, often have poor health literacy and in some cases a distrust of the health system. Additionally, the State vaccination program relies on people having access to a computer or smartphone and the internet to make bookings for vaccinations, a luxury that not all of us have.

It became clear that the best way to help protect people experiencing social and or physical disadvantage, is to take the vaccinations to the people, breaking down barriers preventing people from accessing the same protection as our broader community.

Through the generosity of Suttons Motors and St Vincent’s Curran Foundation, a brand new van was gifted to the team to facilitate mobile vaccinations, and Vinnies Vax Van became a reality.

Vinnies Vax Van targets people at risk of homelessness, experiencing homelessness, people in social housing, residential aged care facilities, prisons and people who live in supported accommodation with severe disabilities.

St Vincent’s commenced the first targeted homeless health and social housing hub in Woolloomooloo in partnership with St Vincent De Paul, Kirketon Road Centre, the City of Sydney and specialist homeless health services in the area. Since its inception, the service has administered more than 5,000 vaccinations to this vulnerable population. 

This initiative was noticed, and NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant subsequently charged St Vincent’s with targeting vulnerable groups for vaccination more broadly across Sydney. The Van has since popped up all over Sydney – at correctional centres, community housing sites and several aged care facilities. 

St Vincent’s vulnerable vaccination program continues to deliver thousands of vaccinations to vulnerable populations who may have otherwise fallen through the cracks, and has also been able to rapidly respond to areas of concern. 

Vinnies Vax Van, but more so the driving team behind her, is a mission imperative service we can all be proud of. Our outreach vaccination program is a shining example of doing things the St Vincent’s Way.

Click here to see ABC's 7.30 Report.