On Friday 15th January 2021, we wrote to Matt Hancock asking him to prioritise people who are homeless for COVID vaccinations. This letter was co signed by Homeless Link, Emmaus UK, DePaul UK and The Big Issue. Read our letter below;
Prioritising the homeless in the vaccination process
Secretary of State,
Recently, we held what we believe to be the first COVID-19 vaccination clinic in the world for people who are homeless, at a homelessness charity in Oldham.
Amongst those we inoculated were some of the most vulnerable people within our society, with perilously low immune systems, underlying health conditions including asthma and epilepsy and strong evidence of malnutrition and the effects of hypothermia. Since they do not have the same accessibility to news or social media and are indeed dealing with sometimes day-to-day mental health issues, they are sometimes unaware of the progression of the virus and again, are in mortal danger.
A moral duty
Morally, the clinic felt like the right thing to do, to ensure that those who are most susceptible to the risk of death from COVID-19 are protected. Indeed, we would say that this demonstrates the very best of British values of compassion and care for those less fortunate.
It is also a salient reminder to us that the average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is just 46 for men and 43 for women.
Whilst the over 80’s group and indeed front-line health and social carers also sit within the description of most vulnerable, we would strongly encourage you to include those living on our streets in that category, too.
Fiscal sense and a display of humanity
There should never be a league table of vulnerability, but we understand that resources are not infinite. People who are homeless are a relatively small group and inoculating them now, means they would avoid the trauma of acute hospital care.
It is laudable that the top priority category currently features front-line health carers, but that list should include those working directly with people who are homeless. These include the faith-based volunteers and charitable organisations who take to our streets to offer hope – and are risking their lives at this time to do so.
An opportunity to really reach-out
Finally, we would argue that this is the ideal opportunity to reach out to people who are homeless, remind them that they are part of our society and that we are here to help them regain control of their lives.
We urge you to take the lead and demonstrate to the rest of the world and indeed history, that this country has at its heart, a deep sense of care for all who reside here including those most in need.
Please add people who are homeless to the priority list for COVID vaccinations.