Press Release

For Immediate Release: March 24, 2021

Union County Launches COVID-19 Vaccination Plan to Reach 400 Homeless Individuals  

Union County Commissioners Sergio Granados and Lourdes M. Leon, along with Union County Department of Human Services Director Debbie-Ann Anderson and James Horne, President/CEO of United Way of Greater Union County, visited a mobile vaccination site at the Salvation Army in Elizabeth today.

Union County Board of Commissioners and United Way of Greater Union County collaborate to create pop-up clinics with vaccine for 400 vulnerable residents.

Elizabeth, NJ, March 20, 2021 – The Union County Board of Commissioners has partnered the County’s Department of Human Services with United Way of Greater Union County in a COVID-19 vaccination outreach plan for the homeless. The County and UWGUC will coordinate the administration of vaccines to 400 homeless individuals at eight pop-up clinics in local communities this coming week.

Transportation to the sites will be available if needed, and after-care kits will be distributed to everyone vaccinated.

Vaccines are an important tool to protect people experiencing homelessness from COVID-19, but public health and homeless assistance systems face substantial barriers to reaching this group. Most of the homeless population is not generally well connected to the health care system and face substantial challenges accessing the vaccine. 

“The Board of Commissioners is determined to ensure vaccine access for every Union County resident who wants to be protected against this lethal virus,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank UWGUC and all of our partners for helping to ensure that life-saving vaccines can reach the most vulnerable and at-risk members of the Union County family as quickly as possible.”

“With little to no access to the internet or Wi-Fi services, and facing many other daily challenges, it is nearly impossible for the homeless to apply for a vaccine appointment.  This is our opportunity to go to them to make sure they have an opportunity to receive the vaccine,” states James Horne, CEO, United Way of Greater Union County.”

“Now more than ever it is important to commit to all of our residents during this unprecedented public health crisis. Every single resident including those who are homeless or undocumented should have the opportunity to be vaccinated as well,” said Union County Commissioner Sergio Granados, who serves as liaison to the Human Services Advisory Council. “Advocating for our at-risk community is a priority of mine and of the Commissioner Board, and we will continue to take the initiative and rise up to the challenge of overcoming this pandemic.”

“Thanks to the strong network of partner agencies in Union County, we are able to muster an all-hands-on-deck effort to connect with unsheltered residents in our community,” said Department of Human Services Director Debbie-Ann Anderson.

The Department of Human Services worked with UWGUC to obtain the grant for the pop-up vaccine clinic program, which will fund professional vaccination staff through the Visiting Nurse Association. The Union County Department of Human Services is coordinating outreach with shelters and other partners, in order to ensure that their clients and other at-risk residents are aware of the vaccination opportunity.

Staff from the Department of Human Services will also assist at the clinics.

In addition to the Commissioner Board, the Department of Human Services, UWGUC and the Visiting Nurse Association, other partners in the program include Angels for Action, Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services, the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, St. Joseph’s Social Services, Family Promise, The Gateway Family YMCA, Homefirst, Muslim Community Soup Kitchen, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Plainfield Action Services, Salvation Army, YWCA of Eastern Union County, and Cristo Para La Naciones. 

About the Union County Board of Commissioners’ COVID-19 Response

The homeless vaccination initiative builds on the Commissioner Board’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which includes conducting pop-up vaccination drives for seniors in their communities. Union County opened the first free County-based test center in New Jersey, at the Kean University campus in Union Township, on March 23, 2020. The Commissioner Board has also overseen the introduction of new tests as available, and the establishment of a new on-campus test lab at Kean, along with the launch of a mobile test unit to reach vulnerable populations and local communities on a walk-in basis. The Union County Vaccine Center opened at the Kean campus on January 7 and has administered tens of thousands of doses to Union County residents since then.

About United Way of Greater Union County

33 W Grand St., Elizabeth NJ 07202 – (908) 353-7171 – www.uwguc.org

United Way of Greater Union County fights for the health, education, financial stability and family strengthening of every person in Union County, NJ.  We provide critical resources to children and families supporting 39 nonprofit organizations and funding 5 programs. For nearly a century, United Way of Greater Union County has proven to be a pre-eminent community-based leader, partner and investment choice in these communities.

For more information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including the Drive-Through Test Center at Kean University, the Mobile Test Unit walk-up sites, vaccination information, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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