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GPs and councils prioritise homeless people for Covid vaccinations


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Several local authorities in England have decided to prioritise homeless people for vaccination against Covid-19, outside the current JCVI recommendations.

Oldham council, in Greater Manchester, started vaccinating homeless people against Covid last week, after giving this population priority alongside the over-80s.

Also last week, Redbridge council launched a programme to vaccinate rough sleepers in the London borough, using spare vaccination slots at three local centres and an outreach worker.

The scheme will also provide fast track access to lateral flow and PCR testing to homeless individuals, Redbridge council said.

Plans are also underway across Oxfordshire for rough sleepers and homeless people to be included among the priority groups to receive the vaccine as it is rolled out. 

This includes vaccinations for people ‘sleeping rough, in temporary accommodation and staff in outreach and other homelessness services’, a spokesperson for Oxford City Council said.

Oldham council said it had come together with local GPs, sanctioned by the CCG, to offer the vaccine ‘to people who find themselves with no permanent home, along with other groups already receiving the vaccine’ over the coming weeks and months. 

Dr Zahid Chauhan, Oldham councillor and a GP, said: ‘People living on the streets, or those who have no permanent address, are some of the most vulnerable people in society and need help and support.

‘Because they live on the streets they can also come into contact with a large number of people, which means if they have coronavirus there is a big risk they could pass it on to others. That’s why it is important they are offered the vaccine.’

Under current advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), care home residents should be the first group prioritised for Covid vaccinations, followed by those aged over 80 and frontline health and care workers. 

This week, the Government also opened up for vaccinations of those in the next two cohorts – aged over 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable patients.

A version of this article was first published by Pulse’s sister title Management in Practice