OMAHA, Neb. — Open Door Mission began vaccinating their 65 and older population Wednesday with assistance from the Douglas County Health Department and Nebraska Methodist College. The homeless shelter has been seen as a national leader in coronavirus response and prevention, having less than one percent of positive cases within their population.
"We have already had one fatality amongst our population in January. It was devastating to our team. This man was truly someone we loved and cared about like a family. We just don't want that to happen to anymore of our guests," Open Door Mission President and CEO Candace Gregory said.
The shelter's track record on COVID prevention overall is still impressive. Less than one percent of their residents have been infected. That success rate has garnered national attention. A federal representative with the The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness made his way to Open Door Mission, saying they are one of the first homeless shelters in the country to start vaccinating.
"They've been a national leader, not just local, but a national leader in this," executive director of the agency Dr. Robert Marbut said.
Dr. Marbut with the federal agency received his COVID vaccine at Open Door Mission while in Omaha. He says vaccinating the homeless is a necessary step in protecting local hospital capacity.
"In order to reduce the load on hospitals we need to make sure congregate groups do not become medically compromised," he said.