WINDSOR, ONT. -- Some guests staying at the city’s emergency shelter were able to roll-up their sleeves Wednesday to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Province of Ontario prioritized vaccinations for those experiencing homelessness. City of Windsor staff is assisting the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and Essex-Windsor EMS with vaccinations at the Temporary Emergency Shelter at the Aquatic Centre (TESAC).

“It’s difficult to adhere to a ‘stay at home’ order, when you don’t have a home”, Mayor Drew Dilkens said in a news release. “We are grateful that our residents who face additional challenges from COVID-19 are able to access the vaccine.”

The health unit coordinated the efforts to help make the vaccines available to those within the city’s homeless population while CRST (Community Response and Stabilization Team) Medical Teams were on site administering the vaccinations Wednesday.

A number of community partners and non-profit groups have stepped up to help support those experiencing homelessness during the ongoing pandemic.

The Welcome Centre Shelter for Women and Families have continued to offer emergency shelter as well as leading the operations at the city’s isolation and recovery centre this past year. The Salvation Army of Hope has also mobilized to add an extra 25 shelter beds and Family Services Windsor Essex has deployed their outreach workers to work with residents at the Housing and Homelessness Help Hub (H4).

While vaccine availability offers a sense of “cautious optimism” the City of Windsor thanked all of those working to address the needs of the homeless population and to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19.