Homeless get Covid jabs as local GPs make rough sleepers a priority group for vaccinations

Homeless people will get Covid-19 jabs in the first scheme of its kind in the UK – after a council took matters into its own hands and prioritised them for the vaccine.

Oldham Council and local GPs decided the town’s homeless people should be made a priority group to get the vaccine at the start of the rollout, alongside those over 80. 

A clinic was organised at a shelter for the homeless in Oldham, Greater Manchester, where around 30 people were given the jab – with more planned.

It comes after others claimed there is ‘no uniform process’ across England with regards to who is prioritised for the vaccine, claiming GPs and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) seem to be using their ‘own discretion’. 

Dr Zahid Chauhan, who is also an Oldham councillor with responsibility for health and social care, said homeless people should be on the priority list because, along with those aged 80 and over, they are more at risk from the virus.

Kelly Heney pictured receiving an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester, as the local council and GPs launch an effort to vaccinate homeless people in the town to protect them from the virus

Kelly Heney pictured receiving an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester, as the local council and GPs launch an effort to vaccinate homeless people in the town to protect them from the virus

Kelly Heney pictured receiving an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester, as the local council and GPs launch an effort to vaccinate homeless people in the town to protect them from the virus

Lee Ullha receives an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham. Around 30 people were given the jab after a clinic was organised at the shelter

Lee Ullha receives an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham. Around 30 people were given the jab after a clinic was organised at the shelter

Lee Ullha receives an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham. Around 30 people were given the jab after a clinic was organised at the shelter

THE UK’S VACCINE PRIORITY GROUP LIST

 1 Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults

2 All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers

3 All those 75 years of age and over

4 All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (not including pregnant women and those under 16 years of age)

5 All those 65 years of age and over

6 Adults aged 16 to 65 years in an at-risk group (see below)

7 All those 60 years of age and over

8 All those 55 years of age and over

9 All those 50 years of age and over

10 Rest of the population (to be determined)

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He told MailOnline: ‘We don’t know if we can or can’t decide, but with such a low life expectancy of 43-45, homeless people are an extremely vulnerable group in our opinion.

‘So they will come in the highly vulnerable group anyway and people in this group can be identified by our GPs. It is the right thing to do.’ 

He earlier said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted.

‘It is setting an example for the rest of the country, rest of the world, and saying, “Please, please don’t ignore these people.”‘ 

Dr Chauhan continued: ‘We can protect them, and if they catch Covid they become ill and if they become ill, that’s where you end up in hospitals, if you are lucky, your hospital beds go, your ICU beds go.

‘So it makes absolute sense from all directions to actually vaccinate these people and I’m still requesting Government, please consider again, it is my plea to you, these are extremely vulnerable people.

‘Please put them in a priority group.’

He added: ‘You don’t give up on people because they don’t have resources and they have not been privileged like me and you.

‘You don’t give up, that’s not what we do as British, these are not our British values. We help people, we pull them together.

‘It could be any one of us tomorrow.’ 

Baroness Campbell tweeted this morning: ‘There isn’t a uniform process across the country sadly. 

NHS staff are pictured preparing to administer an Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester

NHS staff are pictured preparing to administer an Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester

NHS staff are pictured preparing to administer an Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester 

An NHS worker holds up a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the clinic in Oldham. Oldham Council and local GPs decided the town's homeless people should be made a priority group to get the vaccine at the start of the rollout

An NHS worker holds up a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the clinic in Oldham. Oldham Council and local GPs decided the town's homeless people should be made a priority group to get the vaccine at the start of the rollout

An NHS worker holds up a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the clinic in Oldham. Oldham Council and local GPs decided the town’s homeless people should be made a priority group to get the vaccine at the start of the rollout

‘It seems that GP practices and CCG’s are behaving under their differently, using the own discretion. 

‘Personally, I made a good case to my GP who then agreed that the guidance empowered him to get me vaccinated.’

The decision has sparked debate over whether the homeless should be a priority for the vaccine.

One woman wrote: ‘Oh my days I don’t begrudge anyone a vaccine but shouldn’t we be concentrating on getting our kids and parents back?

‘I’d love a vaccine – I’m a foster carer who has medical conditions and has vulnerable kids 24/7 they need to go back to school.’

Homeless couple say they’re excited to get the Covid-19 vaccine

Couple Kelly Heney, 38, and Lee Ullha, 46, stay at the homeless shelter where they were vaccinated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.

Mr Ullha said: ‘We got evicted when this Covid thing kicked in, that’s why we were living in the park so we didn’t really watch TV, so we didn’t really know much about it. 

‘It’s scary, especially with the new strain of Covid, I don’t think people take it as serious as it is. 

‘It’s important to get it done. It’s for your own safety.’ 

Ms Heney said: ‘I’m excited and so happy that we have actually just had the Covid injection because it’s a big thing.’

Ms Heney and Mr Ullah were each fined £120 and ordered to pay £85 costs and £95 to victim services for credit card theft and attempted fraud in December last year, according to the Oldham Times.

The couple, who gave the magistrates’ court an address, used the stolen card to try and obtain more than £500 worth of goods.

When sentenced, Mr Ullah was also ordered to undertake treatment for drug dependency.

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Another man added: ‘Yes good idea give the elderly who don’t work and the homeless who don’t work, and leave the ones who have to go out and work to die. Good idea!’

One woman wrote on social media: ‘Sorry but think supermarket staff should be before these they risk there lives daily and those of there families.’

However, some people were supportive of the idea with one man commenting: ‘I cannot believe people criticising.

‘There are many armed forces veterans on the street – do they deserve criticism?

‘Probably done more for this country than most of the whingers.

‘Get a grip and have some empathy, stay in your house where you’re supposed to and thank your lucky stars you have a home.’

Another woman added: ‘The elderly certainly deserve to be given priority along with the NHS, and if someone thinks the homeless should be vaccinated as well then so be it.

‘I go to work every day and risk catching Covid and my husband is in the at risk category but I will happily wait my turn so long as the more in need get some protection first.’

Couple Kelly Heney, 38, and Lee Ullha, 46, stay at the homeless shelter where they were vaccinated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.

Mr Ullha said: ‘We got evicted when this Covid thing kicked in, that’s why we were living in the park so we didn’t really watch TV, so we didn’t really know much about it. 

‘It’s scary, especially with the new strain of Covid, I don’t think people take it as serious as it is.

‘You see people walking round without their masks and it’s, they’re all saying, ‘It’s not a real thing, it’s all make believe.’

‘It’s important to get it done. It’s for your own safety.’ 

Ms Heney said: ‘For me, I can’t believe it’s just happened. I’m excited and so happy that we have actually just had the Covid injection because it’s a big thing.’

NHS staff prepare to administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester

NHS staff prepare to administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester

NHS staff prepare to administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, Greater Manchester

Dr Salim Mohammed, an Oldham GP helping with the vaccinations, added: ‘It’s hard not to see their reaction and feel very warm inside because they were so happy and you could see it.

‘It’s just another day in medicine.’ 

Ms Heney and Mr Ullah were each fined £120 and ordered to pay £85 costs and £95 to victim services for credit card theft and attempted fraud in December last year, according to the Oldham Times.

MailOnline has contacted the Department of Health and Social Care for comment. 

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