Homeless get Covid jabs as local GPs make rough sleepers a priority group for vaccinations

Homeless people will get Covid-19 jabs in the first scheme of its kind in the UK – after a council took matters into its own hands and prioritised them for the vaccine.

Oldham Council and local GPs decided the town’s homeless people should be made a priority group to get the vaccine at the start of the rollout, alongside those over 80. 

A clinic was organised at a shelter for the homeless in Oldham, Greater Manchester, where around 30 people were given the jab – with more planned.

It comes after others claimed there is ‘no uniform process’ across England with regards to who is prioritised for the vaccine, claiming GPs and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) seem to be using their ‘own discretion’. 

Dr Zahid Chauhan, who is also an Oldham councillor with responsibility for health and social care, said homeless people should be on the priority list because, along with those aged 80 and over, they are more at risk from the virus.

Kelly Heney pictured receiving an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester, as the local council and GPs launch an effort to vaccinate homeless people in the town to protect them from the virus

Kelly Heney pictured receiving an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester, as the local council and GPs launch an effort to vaccinate homeless people in the town to protect them from the virus

Kelly Heney pictured receiving an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester, as the local council and GPs launch an effort to vaccinate homeless people in the town to protect them from the virus

Lee Ullha receives an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham. Around 30 people were given the jab after a clinic was organised at the shelter

Lee Ullha receives an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham. Around 30 people were given the jab after a clinic was organised at the shelter

Lee Ullha receives an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham. Around 30 people were given the jab after a clinic was organised at the shelter

THE UK’S VACCINE PRIORITY GROUP LIST

 1 Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults

2 All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers

3 All those 75 years of age and over

4 All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (not including pregnant women and those under 16 years of age)

5 All those 65 years of age and over

6 Adults aged 16 to 65 years in an at-risk group (see below)

7 All those 60 years of age and over

8 All those 55 years of age and over

9 All those 50 years of age and over

10 Rest of the population (to be determined)

<!—->Advertisement

He told MailOnline: ‘We don’t know if we can or can’t decide, but with such a low life expectancy of 43-45, homeless people are an extremely vulnerable group in our opinion.

‘So they will come in the highly vulnerable group anyway and people in this group can be identified by our GPs. It is the right thing to do.’ 

He earlier said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted.

‘It is setting an example for the rest of the country, rest of the world, and saying, ‘Please, please don’t ignore these people.” 

Dr Chauhan continued: ‘We can protect them, and if they catch Covid they become ill and if they become ill, that’s where you end up in hospitals, if you are lucky, your hospital beds go, your ICU beds go.

‘So it makes absolute sense from all directions to actually vaccinate these people and I’m still requesting Government, please consider again, it is my plea to you, these are extremely vulnerable people.

‘Please put them in a priority group.’

He added: ‘You don’t give up on people because they don’t have resources and they have not been privileged like me and you.

‘You don’t give up, that’s not what we do as British, these are not our British values. We help people, we pull them together.

‘It could be any one of us tomorrow.’ 

Baroness Campbell tweeted this morning: ‘There isn’t a uniform process across the country sadly. 

NHS staff are pictured preparing to administer an Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester

NHS staff are pictured preparing to administer an Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester

NHS staff are pictured preparing to administer an Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester 

An NHS worker holds up a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the clinic in Oldham. Oldham Council and local GPs decided the town's homeless people should be made a priority group to get the vaccine at the start of the rollout

An NHS worker holds up a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the clinic in Oldham. Oldham Council and local GPs decided the town's homeless people should be made a priority group to get the vaccine at the start of the rollout

An NHS worker holds up a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the clinic in Oldham. Oldham Council and local GPs decided the town’s homeless people should be made a priority group to get the vaccine at the start of the rollout

‘It seems that GP practices and CCG’s are behaving under their differently, using the own discretion. 

‘Personally, I made a good case to my GP who then agreed that the guidance empowered him to get me vaccinated.’

The decision has sparked debate over whether the homeless should be a priority for the vaccine.

One woman wrote: ‘Oh my days I don’t begrudge anyone a vaccine but shouldn’t we be concentrating on getting our kids and parents back?

‘I’d love a vaccine – I’m a foster carer who has medical conditions and has vulnerable kids 24/7 they need to go back to school.’

Homeless couple say they’re excited to get the Covid-19 vaccine

Couple Kelly Heney, 38, and Lee Ullha, 46, stay at the homeless shelter where they were vaccinated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.

Mr Ullha said: ‘We got evicted when this Covid thing kicked in, that’s why we were living in the park so we didn’t really watch TV, so we didn’t really know much about it. 

‘It’s scary, especially with the new strain of Covid, I don’t think people take it as serious as it is. 

‘It’s important to get it done. It’s for your own safety.’ 

Ms Heney said: ‘I’m excited and so happy that we have actually just had the Covid injection because it’s a big thing.’

Ms Heney and Mr Ullah were each fined £120 and ordered to pay £85 costs and £95 to victim services for credit card theft and attempted fraud in December last year, according to the Oldham Times.

The couple, who gave the magistrates’ court an address, used the stolen card to try and obtain more than £500 worth of goods.

When sentenced, Mr Ullah was also ordered to undertake treatment for drug dependency.

<!—->Advertisement

Another man added: ‘Yes good idea give the elderly who don’t work and the homeless who don’t work, and leave the ones who have to go out and work to die. Good idea!’

One woman wrote on social media: ‘Sorry but think supermarket staff should be before these they risk there lives daily and those of there families.’

However, some people were supportive of the idea with one man commenting: ‘I cannot believe people criticising.

‘There are many armed forces veterans on the street – do they deserve criticism?

‘Probably done more for this country than most of the whingers.

‘Get a grip and have some empathy, stay in your house where you’re supposed to and thank your lucky stars you have a home.’

Another woman added: ‘The elderly certainly deserve to be given priority along with the NHS, and if someone thinks the homeless should be vaccinated as well then so be it.

‘I go to work every day and risk catching Covid and my husband is in the at risk category but I will happily wait my turn so long as the more in need get some protection first.’

Couple Kelly Heney, 38, and Lee Ullha, 46, stay at the homeless shelter where they were vaccinated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.

Mr Ullha said: ‘We got evicted when this Covid thing kicked in, that’s why we were living in the park so we didn’t really watch TV, so we didn’t really know much about it. 

‘It’s scary, especially with the new strain of Covid, I don’t think people take it as serious as it is.

‘You see people walking round without their masks and it’s, they’re all saying, ‘It’s not a real thing, it’s all make believe.’

‘It’s important to get it done. It’s for your own safety.’ 

Ms Heney said: ‘For me, I can’t believe it’s just happened. I’m excited and so happy that we have actually just had the Covid injection because it’s a big thing.’

NHS staff prepare to administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester

NHS staff prepare to administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester

NHS staff prepare to administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester

Dr Salim Mohammed, an Oldham GP helping with the vaccinations, added: ‘It’s hard not to see their reaction and feel very warm inside because they were so happy and you could see it.

‘It’s just another day in medicine.

Dr Salim Mohammed added: ‘We’ve been vaccinating people in Oldham over the last few weeks, starting with the most at risk group, the over 80s.

‘It’s important that we continue to vaccinate those most at risk from COVID-19, and this includes people impacted by homelessness.

‘We are in the process of planning how we can vaccinate this group. They are already some of the most vulnerable people in our society and it’s important their risk of contracting COVID is reduced.’  

A spokesman for Oldham Council confirmed that while not all of those from priority groups 1 to 3 have been vaccinated at this stage, they are hopeful to have achieved this by mid-February. 

The council said more than 3,700 residents have taken up the offer of the vaccine since the mass vaccination programme started in December. 

Earlier this month, the Government announced £10million funding to help local councils house rough sleepers and ensure they were registered with a GP. 

The Government said this would ensure they can be protected from the virus and contacted to receive vaccinations. 

Councils were instructed to work closely with local health partners to ensure those sleeping rough ‘are able to access the COVID-19 vaccine in line with the priority groups outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’. 

Communities minister Robert Jenrick announced additional funding to help local councils accommodate the homeless and get them registered with GPs earlier this month

Communities minister Robert Jenrick announced additional funding to help local councils accommodate the homeless and get them registered with GPs earlier this month

Communities minister Robert Jenrick announced additional funding to help local councils accommodate the homeless and get them registered with GPs earlier this month

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: ‘At the start of this pandemic we made sure that the most vulnerable in society were protected.

‘This winter, we are continuing in this vein and redoubling our efforts to help those most in need.

‘Our ongoing Everyone In initiative is widely regarded as one of the most successful of its kind in the world, ensuring 33,000 people are safe in accommodation.

‘We are now going further and focusing on GP registration of rough sleepers. 

‘We are also extending the ban on bailiff evictions – helping to protect the most vulnerable renters.’

Reacting to the Government initiative, Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: ‘These renewed efforts to protect people who are homeless in the pandemic will save lives.

‘The highly infectious new strain of coronavirus alongside the cold weather makes this the most dangerous moment of the pandemic for those without a home.

‘What is very welcome here is the two-pronged approach – a continued commitment to getting everyone into safe accommodation but also now making sure people are registered with a GP so they can quickly access the vaccines.

‘We know through our services that people facing homelessness often are not registered with a doctor’s surgery.

‘Addressing this issue will be a lifesaving intervention and a step towards ensuring people who are homeless are protected in the longer-term.’ 

According to the Government guidelines, people who are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ – which would place them in priority group 4 – are defined as at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

Guidance states you may fall into this category if you suffer from one of a number of listed illnesses on the Government website which includes certain types of cancer, severe respiratory conditions and rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections.

However, the guidance does go on to state that it could include ‘other people who have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs.’

It adds that GPs and hospital clinicians have been provided with guidance to support these decisions.

MailOnline has contacted the Department of Health and Social Care for comment.  

Link hienalouca.com

(Total views: 139 Time, 1 visits per day)

Leave a Reply