Covid-19 vaccinations rolled out to people experiencing homelessness
Our Bradbury Day Centre was recently transformed into a Covid-19 vaccination clinic dedicated to people affected by homelessness in and around Southend.
A hugely successful start saw nearly 100 COVID-19 vaccinations given to the local homeless community, including people who are currently homeless as well as those recovering from homelessness.
The clinic was the result of a coordinated effort between HARP, Southend CCG, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Southend’s Primary Care Network.
Dr Haroon Siddique, local GP and lead for Southend's Homeless Health Project, was joined by Edel Spruce, a nurse for the project, and two volunteers from the vaccination centre for the sessions at The Bradbury Centre. HARP staff and volunteers did an amazing job making sure the clinic ran smoothly so that clients could be seen quickly and safely.
The team also carried out basic health checks and were joined by the Hepatitis C screening nurse from Addenbrookes Hospital, who managed to do 66 tests on the first day of the clinic.
Dr Siddique said:
"We need to do everything we can to support and protect homeless people and rough sleepers, as we know they are particularly vulnerable to having a poor outcome, if they develop COVID-19 and they often find it difficult to engage in usual medical services. We have been working on providing this vaccination session since the beginning of the year and I just want to thank the CCG and Gary Turner and his team at HARP in making this happen.”
People who are currently rough sleeping or have been homeless in the past often have underlying health problems that put them at increased risk of developing the worst symptoms of the virus. People identified as homeless are already more likely to die at a much younger age, with the average age of death being 45 for men and 43 for women, compared to 76 and 81 years for the rest of the population (ONS, 2018). However, they can also struggle to access the very health services that could help protect them and give them a better chance at a long and happy life.
Gary Turner, our Director of Service Operations, said:
“We are delighted to be able to play our part in the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme and to see such an excellent take up amongst our clients.
"I’d especially like to recognise the hard work of our frontline teams in our Day Centre, emergency accommodation and supported housing, for going above and beyond so that the people we support can take this important step to stay safe and help slow down the spread of the virus.”
Second doses of the vaccine will be provided in a month’s time as well as vaccinating those that missed out on the first vaccine clinic.
We have been working closely with Dr Siddique and the Homeless Health Project to ensure that people experiencing homelessness get priority access to the Covid-19 vaccine.