Many of us have spent the last few months eagerly waiting for updates on when we can get the COVID-19 vaccine, and we can finally feel the sense of relief that comes with safely returning to normalcy. But for many young people, getting access to the vaccine has been a daunting task. Youth who are experiencing instability often exist in survival mode, and for many, a COVID-19 vaccine is the last thing on their mind. Additionally, young people may not have access to information about the vaccine, like where they can get one and whether it will cost them money.

These youth need equitable health care, and in a public health crisis like a pandemic, advocating for vaccine access will have a profound impact on our community. We recently worked with Kaiser Permanente to expand its outreach and make COVID-19 vaccines accessible to youngsters who are interested in receiving them. We are inspired by the impact of this collaboration!

“We at Kaiser Permanente have been honored to work with YouthCare since 2014 to support youth experiencing homelessness and struggling to receive care,” said Dr. Jennifer Hoock of Kaiser Permanente. “We’ve seen the pandemic exacerbate those existing gaps in our community, and it has heightened our call to action. By administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at these clinics, we are able to fully protect many YouthCare clients across Seattle.”   

A few weeks ago, in May, we arranged a vaccination open house in the Capitol Hill Orion Center. Doctors from Kaiser Permanente set up vaccination booths and our volunteers created a welcoming environment for youth to come and learn about COVID-19 safety. Those who attended were offered a vaccine if they chose to, at no cost to them.

In June, we set up our table with Kaiser Permanente at the Community Resource Fair in Seattle’s University District. The fair was coordinated by The Doorway Project, a University of Washington and YouthCare-led initiative that focuses on addressing youth homelessness in the University District. Kaiser Permanente provides a wide range of health services, including COVID-19 vaccinations, at YouthCare’s Orion Center and does outreach at other YouthCare locations throughout the community. Additionally, they provide health education sessions and host workshops on caring for yourself.

The fair offered free on-site vaccinations for youth, in addition to other resources that benefit local youth. Our staff and volunteers were on-site to provide information on the services YouthCare offers to clients, including details on upcoming internships that range in topics from technology to art. Youth also had the opportunity to visit booths that provided veterinary care, medical care, behavioral health care, menstruation supplies, clothing, voter registration, PPE, confidential HIV testing and food.

Each fair is designed to bring resources to young people in a way that is convenient and comfortable for them.

To learn more about our upcoming resource fairs, or to learn more about any of out future events, visit YouthCare’s website and go to the Events page.