The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that homeless people should be prioritised for a COVID-19 vaccine as many have underlying health conditions.
The JVCI says that homeless people are likely to have underlying health issues, placing them in priority group 6 for the COVID-19 vaccine – advising that local teams should consider a universal offer to adults experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping.
It has advised that they should also be offered the vaccine without the need for an NHS number or GP registration.
Prioritising the vulnerable
The JCVI anticipates that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will be easier to deploy to this group of people – with the optimal timing for the second dose at eight to 12 weeks after the first dose. Local decisions should be taken on whether a shorter schedule may be offered if they are unlikely to return for the second dose at 12 weeks.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 Chair for JCVI, said: “The JCVI’s advice on COVID-19 vaccine prioritisation was developed with the aim of preventing as many deaths as possible. People experiencing homelessness are likely to have health conditions that put them at higher risk of death from COVID-19. This advice will help us to protect more people who are at greater risk, ensuring that fewer people become seriously ill or die from the virus.”
Rosanna O’Connor, Acting Director for Health Improvement at Public Health England, said: “People who are homeless or who sleep rough face reduced access to healthcare, and experience some of the highest rates of poor health outcomes and undiagnosed health issues.
“We welcome this decision of JCVI and are pleased to have supported the committee with the evidence that helped make this decision, which will protect those who are most vulnerable and may be at increased of severe illness or death from COVID-19.”