England: Homeless to be prioritised for vaccine, NHS welcomes recommendation
In a letter to secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock at the start of the month, the JCVI had advised that local teams should exercise operational judgement and consider universal offer of the vaccine to people experiencing homelessness, alongside delivery to people in priority group six.
Accepting the advice yesterday, Mr Hancock said he asked NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) to take it forward alongside the JCVI’s recommendation on a pragmatic approach to the dosing schedule considering the likelihood of follow up for this group.
He added that his officials have also shared the advice with those leading the vaccines deployment programmes in each of the four nations of the UK.
Responding to the latest JCVI advice on the prioritisation of homeless people and rough sleepers for the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr Graham Jackson, GP and senior clinical adviser to the NHS Confederation said:
“This is welcome news and builds on what many local vaccination sites have been doing already to ensure access to the coronavirus vaccines are as equitable as possible.
“Homeless people can be among the most vulnerable in our society, often having high rates of undiagnosed chronic conditions, feeling detached from society, and not being registered with a GP. It is right that a consistent approach is taken to prioritising their immunisation, which the JCVI’s guidance will facilitate.
“Primary care networks have a vital role to play in reaching out to all people in the community they serve, and we now await the guidance from NHS England on how this update should be taken forward.”
Dozens of homeless people across Stoke-on-Trent have been given the coronavirus vaccine to help keep them safe and well.
A GP federation has delivered the jabs to at least 65 rough sleepers since Monday. ■