An #Oldham man who was sleeping rough in a churchyard just a few months ago has become the first homeless person in the world to receive a second COVID-19 vaccination jab. Paul was inoculated by NHS staff and is now looking to return to the world, free of addiction and able to seek warehouse work. Paul’s conversion has owed much to pioneering health charity Homeless-Friendly who organised the vaccine clinics, Oldham Council’s homeless service, the DePaul organisation where he is currently housed, and night-time volunteers from the Oldham Street Angels, who set him on his road to recovery when he sought succour there for some much-needed food. The decision to protect those experiencing homelessness as a priority was based on research showing they were over 20 times more likely than any other group to need hospital care should they contract the virus (1). Added to that, the average life span of a homeless person is just 45-year-of-age.“For someone such as Paul who has been living on the streets for over five years, the chances are that their immune systems will be damaged, and poor nutrition and sheer exhaustion would have left them highly susceptible to deadly viruses” said GP and Founder of Homeless-Friendly Dr Zahid Chauhan OBE, who organised the first homelessness COVID clinic back in January. “How we care for the most vulnerable, whether they be older or living on the streets, is a barometer for any decent society and a moral duty for us all.” So wrapped-up in the business of finding a roof over his head and something to eat, Paul did not even know about COVID-19 until he saw the streets of Oldham, empty. “Homeless people do not have TV sets, and it was only when I noticed the churches were closed and no one was on the streets that I knew something was going on” said Paul. Dr Chauhan continued: “Sadly, some people think there is a deserving and undeserving poor and that in some way, homeless people are taking the place of others that are vulnerable. This is simply not true. Even the spare vaccines from our clinics were immediately taken to care homes and other institutions, to help protect others in need.” Paul was also keen to dismiss COVID myths about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. “I felt very grateful when I heard I was being vaccinated and I just dealt with it” said Paul (45), “we will never be free of COVID unless everyone gets vaccinated. If we don’t, we will just continue to spread the virus and hurt the NHS.”

People who are homeless in Oldham receive 2nd COVID jab

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