Date Issued: October 27, 2021

Dear Service Providers,

Tremendous efforts have been made to date to ensure access to vaccinations for shelter clients through mobile clinics, incentives and peer champions.

To support these efforts and ensure all eligible shelter service users benefit from the strong protection offered by both doses, this Bulletin highlights the requirement to collect COVID-19 vaccination information from clients at intake and provide clients with the opportunity to receive their vaccination, if they have not been vaccinated or fully vaccinated. This expectation is for all Shelter, 24-hour Respite and 24-hour Women’s Drop In providers, including those operating temporary COVID-19 response sites and hotel programs

To ensure a consistent implementation of this approach, providers are expected to:

  1. Incorporate into the admission process:

a. A question that asks for clients’ vaccination status (first dose, second dose); ensuring that consent is obtained for the collection of COVID-19 vaccination information from clients.

b. Facilitate immediate referral to a vaccine appointment, if the client has not received the COVID-19 vaccine, or has received only one dose.

c. Incorporate routine discussions on the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the service plan if client decline to disclose this information or refuses to attend vaccine appointment.

Vaccination status has no bearing on clients’ ability to access service.

  1. Routinely offer vaccination to unvaccinated clients:

a. Hold on-site vaccination clinics on an on-going basis.

b. Continuously engage clients in conversations about the COVID-19 vaccine to answer questions about the vaccine and address hesitancies

c. Provide incentives to compensate clients for their time spent on receiving the vaccine.

d. Connect clients to peer supports and other resources that may be available through the Toronto Shelter Network and the SSHA Vaccination Site Lead Table

As Ontario moves into the fall and winter seasons, the most important public health measure to protect against COVID-19 is to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Delta variant is more than twice as transmissible as the original COVID-19 virus. This increased transmissibility makes the unvaccinated population extremely vulnerable, especially in congregate settings such as shelters, 24-hour respites and 24-hour women’s drop ins. Full vaccination has been shown to be effective in reducing COVID-19 virus transmission and protecting vaccinated individuals against severe consequences of COVID-19 and COVID-19 variants.

Thank you for your cooperation and for your continued dedication to our clients, our team and this City.

Sharon Campbell
Director (A), SSHA – Homelessness Initiatives & Prevention Services

Please ensure that this Bulletin is cascaded to all relevant staff as soon as possible, and a hard copy of this document posted in a conspicuous place for ongoing reference.