Doctors Without Walls-Santa Barbara Street Medicine (DWW) has announced that, according to the most recent Santa Barbara County COVID-19 Vaccination Rates by Supplier for 2021, DWW had vaccinated 991 homeless individuals or 58% of the county’s homeless population, against COVID-19.

DWW credits its vaccination success to early conversations with its homeless clients about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. DWW is the primary healthcare provider to many of the homeless living in Santa Barbara.

DWW strategically waited until March 2021 to begin vaccinating the population when the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine was made available to DWW through a partnership with Santa Barbara County Public Health.

Due to the transient nature of the homeless population a single-dose vaccine was judged to be more effective than a two-dose vaccine due to potential difficulties with follow-up.

DWW also reports that in 2021 it had 4,966 encounters with the unsheltered and marginally sheltered population it serves. Of those encounters, 1,535 were for medical treatment. Of these 4,966 encounters, DWW treated 1,032 unique clients, 690 were men and 341 were women and 1 transgender. Of those treated, 27% responded they had received treatment or were diagnosed with a mental health illness.

Doctors Without Walls-Santa Barbara Street Medicine’s volunteers provide free medical care for the most vulnerable, underserved populations in Santa Barbara County, when and where they are in need, including in times of disaster. DWW provides education and training for its volunteers and others in order to promote the excellent practice of humanitarian medicine.