LONDON (AP) – In an epidemic, homeless people face more forgetfulness than they already have. But not by doctors like Dr. Anil Mehta, he is tasked with bringing the corona virus vaccine to those who are difficult to reach and often at risk of contracting the disease in East London.
Mehta, a general practitioner, and his small team of doctors and nurses are on display at his local homeless center, the Govt-19 hotspot, offering free jobs to dozens of people who may be lagging behind in Britain’s mass vaccination drive.
“They will miss out if we don’t find them in advance,” Mehta said. “As far as medical care is concerned, they really have nothing. Finding them is absolutely essential to what we want to achieve in our metropolitan areas.”
The homeless are not listed in the British Government’s highest priority groups for vaccination – it currently includes people over the age of 70, nursing home residents, frontline medical staff and community care workers, as well as the medically vulnerable.
Due to the lack of a contact address for doctors sleeping and staying in shelters, some local authorities across the UK have begun sending roving vaccination teams to identify those who may be medically vulnerable so they can access Jab.
Homeless Link, a charity, last month asked local authorities to help keep so-called “rough sleepers” from registering with doctors as temperatures plummeted and a major outbreak of the virus spread in the UK. But there is no clear strategy to ensure that homeless people are vaccinated, which means officials in different areas are left to pick different tricks.
“We believe the vaccine needs a targeted approach to protect the homeless,” said Rick Henderson, the charity’s chief executive.
“Homeless people are more likely to have chronic illnesses such as asthma, heart problems and strokes, and they are getting older prematurely. In addition, their use of communal shelters such as homeless hostels increases the risk of contracting COVID-19, ”he said.
Outside of northeast London, which has seen the worst infection rates in the UK, Mehta and his mobile vaccination team are busy working outside their clinic. They gave a vaccination job to more than 200 homeless people and community care workers at two community centers last week, and plan to reach 70 more next week.
Mehta is happy with the progress made so far.
“These are very tough teams – they can be in different places, go here today and go to central London the next day,” he said. “We chase them effectively.”
Earlier this week, anyone living in the UK illegally registered with a doctor and asked to be vaccinated, promising that they were not at risk of having their immigration status checked or deported. It is unclear how many people will be affected by the policy – the last official estimate in 2005 suggested that there were no legal entitlements to about 430,000 people in the country.
More than 12 million people in the UK now have a corona virus vaccine. Officials say they are on track to disburse the first tranche of $ 15 million in the first priority groups by Monday, and have set a goal of vaccinating every adult in the country by the fall.
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