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Homeless in Wales to be priority for coronavirus vaccination

PEOPLE who are homeless, or have recently been homeless, in Wales are to be offered a coronavirus vaccination as part of priority group six.

Health minister Vaughan Gething confirmed that this prioritisation comes as people who are or have recently experienced homelessness are to be classed as at increased risk.

This, the Welsh Government says, is because they are more likely to have an underlying health condition which puts them at high risk from both transmission and the harms of coronavirus.

According to ONS data, people with experience of homelessness have a lower than average non-Covid related life expectancy, with mortality at around 31 to 38 years sooner than the general population.

Guidance issued today states that an inclusive approach should be taken to ensure all homeless people are included as part of the Welsh Government’s plans to guarantee no one is left behind in the vaccination programme.

People are currently identified and contacted via their GP or health records to be offered a vaccine however many homeless people may not be registered with health or other local services.

Local authorities, third sector and housing organisations, as well as homelessness support teams, will be key in helping to support individuals to take up their vaccine offer.

The vaccine will also be taken to where people are, rather than expecting them to visit services.

Those included are those sleeping rough, people in emergency accommodation and people recently homeless in supported accommodation.

Mr Gething said: “It is as shocking as it is saddening that those who are homeless are much more likely to have a physical or mental health conditions which put them at a higher risk from the harms of Covid-19.

“A fundamental principle of our vaccination programme is that no one will be left behind and as part of this commitment, we are already working to ensure it is as easy as possible for every eligible adult in Wales to have a coronavirus vaccine if they want one.

“Today’s guidance provides further information on how we are going to do this across organisations and government to ensure homeless people are supported to get protected and have their vaccine too.”

Minister for housing and local government Julie James said: “Today’s announcement means we will be able to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“Since the pandemic began housing teams and support workers in local authorities and the third sector have been working tirelessly to support people who are experiencing homelessness into safe, secure accommodation. Thousands have been helped and lives have undoubtedly been saved. These teams will now play an absolutely crucial role in helping us get the vaccine to where it’s most needed.”

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