Matt Hancock reveals homeless Brits will be bumped up the Covid vaccine priority list after top scientists said it would save lives
- JCVI vaccine advisers said homeless people should be on jab priority list
- Matt Hancock has asked NHS to reach them alongside people with health issues
- There are 280,000 homeless people living in the UK, according to Shelter
Matt Hancock today revealed homeless people in England will be bumped up the Covid vaccine priority list regardless of their age.
The Health Secretary said the decision — recommended by the UK’s top vaccination advisers — would ‘save more lives among those most at risk in society’. He added it was important ‘nobody gets left behind’.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises No10 on who should be inoculated, has until now ranked people by their age and whether they have any serious health conditions.
But the expert panel said it was now recommending the homeless were included because they ‘are likely to have health conditions that put them at higher risk of death from Covid’.
The JCVI said local NHS leaders can shorten the 12 week dosing regimen if they believe a homeless person is unlikely to show up for their appointment.
Homeless charity Shelter estimates there are around 280,000 people living rough in England.
It follows an announcement from Wales on Wednesday that it was bumping up homeless people on its priority list. Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected to follow suit.
Matt Hancock today revealed homeless people in England will be bumped up the Covid vaccine priority list regardless of their age
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises No10 on who should be inoculated, has until now focused on age and already-ill people
Mr Hancock said: ‘Our vaccination rollout is moving at an incredible speed, with two in every five adults now having received at least one vaccine.
‘It’s so important that nobody gets left behind in this national effort.
‘We know there are heightened risks for those who sleep rough and today I have accepted the advice of the independent experts at the JCVI to prioritise those experiencing rough sleeping or homelessness for vaccination alongside priority group 6.
‘This will mean we will save more lives, among those most at risk in society.’
The JCVI said people who are homeless should also be offered the vaccine without the need for an NHS number or GP registration.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, JCVI Covid chairman, said: ‘The JCVI’s advice on Covid 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.
‘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.’
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, welcomed No10’s move to bump homeless people up the vaccine queue.
He added: ‘But make no mistake, the vaccine will not make homelessness safe.
‘Whether it is living on the streets, or in cars and sheds, or constantly moving between friends’ sofas, homelessness is extremely damaging to both your physical and mental health.
‘We desperately need a plan to ensure everyone has a safe and secure home.’