Norfolk's homeless encouraged to get vaccine despite no JCVI prioritisation

The syringe is filled with the Covid-19 vaccine at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Homeless people in Norfolk and Waveney will not be prioritised in the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine – but work is being done to make sure they can all be contacted when it is their turn to get the jab. - Credit: Denise Bradley

As part of a special series, Daniel Moxon looks at how efforts to support the homeless in Norwich have fared during the pandemic.

Homeless people in Norfolk and Waveney will not be bumped up the priority list for the Covid-19 vaccine, the area's clinical commissioning group (CCG) has confirmed.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) set out national guidance for the national rollout of the jab, which is largely age-based but includes priority groups such as care home residents and staff, and those deemed to be especially vulnerable to the virus.

Nationally, homeless people were not included in that guidance, meaning each person would be called for their vaccine once the rollout has reached their age group.

But locally, some authorities such as those in Liverpool, Oldham and parts of London have chosen to prioritise those without a home anyway, due to their more restricted access to hygiene facilities.

NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG confirmed this would not be the case in the region, but added they have been working hard to identify homeless people so no-one slips through the net.

Tracy Williams, a Queen's Nurse and NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG clinical governing body member, said: "The NHS is vaccinating in line with guidance set by the JCVI.

Tracy Williams, of Norwich CCG.

Tracy Williams, of Norfolk and Waveney CCG. - Credit: ArchantNorfolk and Waveney CCG

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"We are encouraging our homeless population in Norfolk and Waveney and those in temporary accommodation to take up the offer of a vaccine when they are eligible."

A spokesperson for the CCG said there is "extensive working being undertaken to identify and support our homeless communities to ensure there is equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccine".

Permanent secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Jeremy Pocklington told MPs last month that those sleeping rough "should receive their vaccination in line with their position in the priority groups as outlined by the JCVI and agreed by the government".

A multi agency group, made up of the CCG, local authorities, Public Health and voluntary organisations has also been established to encourage homeless people to register with a local GP practice so they can be contacted when it is their turn to receive the jab.

The CCG added their approach to the rollout has been informed by a previously successful flu delivery programme to hostels and homeless communities across Norfolk and Waveney.

More in this series

– How Norwich's homeless have been helped during coronavirus

– Norwich homeless service fears 'tsunami' when Covid's economic toll hits

– At least five homeless people died in Norfolk in 2020

– Big Issue seller on how lockdown pushed him closer to homelessness

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