Reaching out to provide flu and Covid jabs to people who are homeless

People who are homeless in Surrey are being offered the opportunity to receive flu and Covid jabs this winter, all thanks to a potentially lifesaving initiative by Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care System (ICS) and local partners within the Surrey Homeless Multi-Agency Group.

Working together throughout the winter, they successfully set up outreach flu clinic sessions at hostels and other support settings along with the option of a mobile unit to provide further outreach. The initiative involved reaching out to people who are homeless, many of whom have longer term health conditions, in an attempt to make it easier for them to access the flu vaccine.

People living on the streets or those with no permanent address may come into contact with a large number of people and they are at risk of contracting and passing on coronavirus. Building on the learning gained during the flu vaccination rollout, Surrey Heartlands ICS and Surrey Homeless Multi-Agency Group are now working with services, including voluntary groups, to enable people who are homeless to receive the Covid-19 vaccination.

This year it is more important than ever that people who are most at risk of flu and Covid-19 are vaccinated. The best way to avoid getting flu and coronavirus is by having the vaccinations and doing so reduces the risk of developing the illnesses significantly.

Sinead Mooney, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health said: ““People who have no permanent home are some of the most vulnerable in our county and we’re pleased to be able to offer them the Covid-19 vaccine. Thanks to outreach work in the community through partners and voluntary groups, we’ve been giving the flu jab to homeless people this winter and now we’ll be using a similar approach to support access to the Covid-19 jab.

“We’re committed to tackling health inequalities so that everyone in the community is able to thrive and no one is left behind. This is an example of how we’re working with partners to put that ambition into practice.”

Dr Charlotte Canniff, Clinical Chair, Surrey Heartlands CCG and local GP said: “This year with Covid-19 circulating, Covid-19 immunisations are more important than ever to reduce infections, protect the vulnerable in our community, protect each other and protect the NHS. Local practices and support services are facing numerous additional pressures this winter and the actions of all those involved is nothing short of heroic.”

Corinna, from Practice Plus Group who were commissioned to deliver flu outreach clinics, said: “It has been humbling and rewarding playing our part in protecting some of the most vulnerable people in society and further protecting the NHS at this difficult time. The people we are vaccinating are so grateful, and conscious that by doing this they are helping to protect others as well as themselves. We are looking forward to going out in the mobile unit to reach those who are not resident in a hostel.”

Lena Abdu, Primary Care Network Development Manager, Alliance for Better Care, said: "Our focus has always been to deliver a safe and effective programme that affords every member of our community access to a vaccination. Alongside our seven vaccination sites, we have worked hard to introduce mobile solutions that help us to reach more vulnerable members of our community and those that may find it harder to access vaccination sites. We're pleased with the progress we've made and are grateful to our partners and volunteers for helping us to bring such initiatives to life."  

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