Doctors and nurses in Southend have joined forces with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and homeless charity HARP, to launch a dedicated COVID-19 vaccination clinic aimed at people experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping in Southend.
A hugely successful start saw nearly 100 COVID-19 vaccinations given to people who are currently homeless but in temporary accommodation, as well as those recently homeless but now in permanent accommodation, with the support of Southend Council’s housing team, Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Southend’s Primary Care Network’s (PCN) Dr Haroon Siddique and his team from West Central Southend PCN.
The vaccination session took place at The Bradbury Centre, the home of local charity HARP who were instrumental in organising the day.
In addition to the vaccinations, the team carried out basic health checks and were also joined by the Hepatitis C screening nurse from Addenbrookes Hospital, who carried out 66 tests.
Dr Siddique said: ‘We need to do everything we can to support and protect the homeless 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.”
Cllr Trevor Harp, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: “We are now at a point in the Government’s COVID-19 vaccination programme where we can vaccinate those who are homeless, those who were recently homeless and a small number of rough sleepers and our clients. This is important due to their increased vulnerability due to other health conditions in many cases.”
Nationally it has been recognised that certain groups and communities, including the rough sleepers and the homeless, are experiencing lower uptake of the jab and unfortunately, people within these groups often have health conditions that are associated with an increased risk of ending up in hospital.
Gary Turner, HARP’s 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 homeless people and rough sleepers.
“I’d especially like to recognise the hard work of everyone involved 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.”
They will be providing second doses in a month’s time to their clients as well as vaccinating those that missed out on the first vaccine clinic.
You can access up-to-date information about the COVID-19 vaccination programme by visiting the Essex COVID-19 vaccination website at: https://www.essexcovidvaccine.nhs.uk/information-support/