Homeless help – scheme providing Covid-19 vaccinations hailed a success

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A pilot scheme vaccinating people who are homeless in Manchester against Covid-19 is set to expand after the success of its first phase.

Urban Village Medical Practice based in Ancoats, which is already contracted by Manchester Health and Care Commissioning to deliver healthcare to those experiencing homelessness, has been working with Manchester City Council to give the Covid-19 jab to people who have been placed in council accommodation.

The first few sessions saw 81 people who are homeless receive the vaccination. This has now been extended to everyone in temporary accommodation and day centres to ensure that anyone who has not taken up accommodation can also get a jab. Where there is no suitable space in premises to give the vaccine, Urban Village’s clinical van will be used. 

Vaccinations have also been given by other practices including Cornbrook Medical Centre, Hulme, who offered the jab at Cornerstones day centre this week and Florence House GPs in Openshaw who have vaccinated people who are in temporary accommodation.

This now means that well more than 100 people have been vaccinated by mid-February, with plans to increase this number significantly over the next month.

People who are homeless have a lower than average life expectancy as a result of their experiences. Many have health ages well in excess of their real age and other medical conditions.

Emma Hicklin, homeless service manager for Urban Village Medical Practice, said: “We always say that people who are homeless are effectively clinically extremely vulnerable and it’s important that they are part of this vaccine roll-out.

“It’s a moral imperative to do it if you can. The uptake has been good so far, but you must go to where people are. The people we’re working with are saying the same as you hear from the general public, that if it helps us all get out of lockdown it’s well worth having the vaccination.”

Councillor Bev Craig, Executive Member for adult health and wellbeing for Manchester City Council, said: “The vaccine roll-out is providing protection to those who need it the most and to the community. So far we’ve seen nearly 100,000 Mancunians receive the vaccine. 

“From the beginning of the programme we have wanted to make sure the vaccine reaches the most vulnerable and no one is forgotten or left behind. Inclusive health is an integral part of our citywide vaccination programme, building on existing trusted relationships that we can use as we expand the opportunity to be vaccinated to everyone who is currently homeless in the city.”

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, lead member for homelessness for Manchester City Council, said: “It’s essential that people who are homeless are afforded the same care as the wider population, especially when many are so vulnerable or in circumstances which make it hard to socially distance.

“I commend the work which Urban Village are doing with the council’s support, as well as that which some other GP practices connected to homelessness charities have done in the city.”

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