Gateshead becomes one of first areas in UK to offer COVID-19 vaccine to homeless

Poppy Sullivan reports on the new action taken by the government to vaccinate the homeless against COVID-19, with Gateshead being one of the first areas to start the rollout.

Poppy Sullivan
23rd March 2021
Image: Pixabay
Health secretary Matt Hancock took action when he received official advice that the homeless and those sleeping rough should be prioritised in regard to the rollout of the vaccine.

The vaccine rollout has reached 23 million people in the United Kingdom with 1.8 million of them having already received their second jab. The country's aim is to have every adult vaccinated by the end of July.

Those who have pre-existing health conditions are prioritised as they are more vulnerable. It was decided on 11 March that the homeless should be included in the clinically vulnerable category.

In the United Kingdom an estimated 280 000 people are victims of homelessness. As a result of the poor conditions and resources the homeless experience, their susceptibility to health problems and diseases greatly surpasses those of people with homes and better living conditions.

Those who are homeless have an average of seven long-term health conditions. This is higher than those who are in their 90s.

It is reported by the charity Homeless Link, that those who are homeless have an average of seven long-term health conditions, which is greatly higher than those who are in their 90s.

The government took this into account, and on 11 March they prioritised the homeless for the vaccine after they were recognised as clinically vulnerable. The homeless community have been placed into band six, which is categorised as people with underlying health conditions which put them at a greater risk of the effects of coronavirus. 

Within hours of the announcement, Oasis Community Housing had delivered 50 vaccines to Gateshead’s homeless at a pop-up clinic.

Oasis Community Housing’s Head of Programmes, Claire Grove said: “People coming in for their vaccine have been made to feel like they matter, and people care for them and their welfare”.

Claire aimed to deliver 150 vaccines by the end of day one by scouting for possible recipients in the local area who were eligible for the vaccine in band 6. 

Throughout past months, the charity has been working with numerous organisations such as Gateshead Recovery Partnership and the GP Federation to organise a plan for the delivery of the vaccine. After many months of preparation this has allowed Gateshead to become one of the first areas to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to the homeless.

The government is finally recognising the needs of homeless people

David Smith, Chief Executive of Oasis Community Housing

Oasis Community Housing’s Chief Executive, David Smith, said: "There's a cause for celebration that the government is finally recognising the needs of homeless people”.

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