Vaccine plea to homeless people

May 10 2021
Vaccine plea to homeless people

VOLUNTEERS are teaming up with NHS staff to call on more homeless people and undocumented migrants to have the COVID-19 vaccine.

Fishponds charity worker Naseem Talukdar has been volunteering at the Easton Community Centre to encourage people who are ‘off the radar’ to come forward. 

Campaigners say deaths among homeless people increased by over a third last year, and a recent survey found almost half of migrants felt scared to access healthcare if they got sick during the pandemic.

Naseem, who has organised food deliveries to people sleeping rough during the pandemic, said: “We are working to reach out to people who may be off the radar, yet because they move around a lot could be at high risk of spreading or catching infection."

Dr Caroline Crentsil, lead GP at the Haven, a Bristol primary care service for asylum seekers and refugees, said undocumented migrants "are more likely to experience barriers to accessing healthcare, which can lead to undiagnosed and untreated conditions".

The national vaccine roll-out has extended to people over 40.

But some Bristol residents have reported difficulties in booking local appointments for a jab, sometimes being offered appointments as far away as Taunton and Salisbury.

A spokesperson for the region's clinical commissioning group, which is responsible for the programme locally, said: "Nationally, there is lower vaccine supply at the moment, but we are working to share vaccine where it is needed across our healthcare system."

A programme to trace a coronavirus "variant of concern" in the area found just four cases in more than 50,000 tests.

People in Fishponds were among those who took part in the two-week community surge testing programme established to detect the VOC-21FEB-02 variant, which contains a mutation thought to make it more easily spread and more resistant to vaccines.

A Public Health England spokesperson said it was "reassuring" that only a small number of variant cases have been detected so far, "which would indicate there wasn’t wider community spread of the variants initially identified".

Picture: Dr Caroline Crentsil and Naseem Talukdar