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Nonprofit workers go tent to tent to vaccinate homeless

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    O’AHU, Hawaii (KITV) — During the pandemic, Toni Floerke, a nurse at Project Vision Hawaii, has been putting shots in the arms of hundreds of homeless on O’ahu.

Many of them are hard-to-reach and reluctant to receive a dose of a vaccine. It’s forced nonprofit groups to go to beaches, parks, shelters and anywhere else they can find a willing participant.

“We live in this gorgeous place, but unfortunately there’s a lot of people that don’t have the means to be housed,” she said. “It could be our aunty or cousin or our brother or our sister, mom, dad.”

Project Vision Hawaii has done about 500 vaccinations over the past month, going tent to tent to reach the homeless population.

“Just because they’re living here they still go to the grocery store, they ride the bus, they’re not completely excluded from what people think of as society,” said Bob Wardlaw, director of homeless programs at Project Vision. “They’re members of society just like you and me.”

Kekoa Caspino, 22, lives at Lualualei Beach Park in Wai’anae. He was happy to get his second dose of a vaccine on Wednesday, even though he says both his parents weren’t interested.

“For taking away corona and not dying,” he said.

Others set their fears aside and allowed the volunteers to administer shots.

“Everybody get fears and I really don’t know about the community, but I just went chance ‘um,” said Akoni Fernandez, 42, from Makaha.

According to Project Vision, roughly 10% of Hawaii’s homeless have tested positive for the coronavirus, compared to around 1 to 2% of the general population. But even going tent to tent in their backyards, only about 50% of the homeless accept the vaccine.

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