BACKGROUND: We explored syringe service program (SSP) perspectives on barriers, readiness, and programmatic needs to support coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine uptake among people who use drugs.
METHODS: We conducted an exploratory qualitative study, leveraging an existing sample of SSPs in the United States. Semistructured, in-depth interviews were conducted with SSP staff between February and April 2021. Interviews were analyzed using a Rapid Assessment Process, an intensive, iterative process that allows for rapid analysis of time-sensitive qualitative data.
RESULTS: Twenty-seven SSPs completed a qualitative interview. Many SSP respondents discussed that COVID-19 vaccination was not a priority for their participants because of competing survival priorities, and respondents shared concerns that COVID-19 had deepened participant mistrust of health care. Most SSPs wanted to participate in COVID-19 vaccination efforts; however, they identified needed resources, including adequate space, personnel, and training, to implement successful vaccine programs.
CONCLUSIONS: Although SSPs are trusted resources for people who use drugs, many require additional structural and personnel support to address barriers to COVID-19 vaccination among their participants. Funding and supporting SSPs in the provision of COVID-19 prevention education and direct vaccine services should be a top public health priority.
Syringe service program perspectives on barriers, readiness, and programmatic needs to support rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine
Journal of Addiction Medicine, 17 (1), e36-e41. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000001036. PMCID: PMC9892351.