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Homeless people receive COVID-19 vaccine as programme reaches more vulnerable members of Bracknell & Ascot communities

Berkshire Primary Care Outreach Health Team – From L to R - Helen Snowden (Director of Operation), Niki Botterill (Nurse & Covid Vaccinator), Dr Natasha Price (GP & Outreach Clinical Lead), Margaret Parsons (Specialist Outreach Hep C Nurse), Volunteer Hep C Coach.

The COVID-19 vaccination programme in Bracknell Forest continues to make excellent progress, with the majority of those people in the top four priority cohorts having now received their first dose of the vaccine.

The progress means that as well as moving onto the next national priority group – those aged 65-69 (cohort 5) - local vaccination services are working to protect clinically vulnerable people aged 16 and over, as well as vulnerable communities, subject to vaccine supply.

The Berkshire Primary Care (BPC) Outreach Healthcare team recently ran a COVID vaccination clinic for their homeless and outreach patients, working closely with Bracknell Forest Council Rough Sleepers Team, local charity Pilgrim Hearts Trust and NHS primary care colleagues and commissioners.  

The session, at St Andrews Church in Priestwood, coincided with a weekly drop-in session held there by Pilgrims Hearts Trust, which is supported by members of the outreach team every other Tuesday.

During the session, homeless and outreach patients have access to a GP, nurse or a health care assistant. 

Dr Natasha Price, clinical lead for the outreach healthcare project, said: “It’s fantastic that we have been able to vaccinate some of our vulnerable community in Bracknell, who are currently, or have recently been, homeless.

“Being able to use one of our weekly sessions at the church to offer the vaccination was really helpful, as it would be difficult for the people we see to get to the COVID-19 vaccination hubs in Bracknell.”

She added: ”Not only were they able to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, they were still able to access other medical and social support as usual. “

“I would like to thank Pilgrims Heart and the Rough Sleeper Team who helped to organise the session, and to Margret Parsons from the Royal Surrey Hepatitis C outreach team for her ongoing support with our service”.

Helen Snowden, Director of Operations for BPC, said: “The outreach healthcare team has continued to offer face-to-face sessions through the pandemic, ensuring the on-going healthcare provision for this population who find it difficult to access routine primary care services.

“It really was amazing to be able to build on the great work they are doing and use the opportunity to vaccinate so many of our most vulnerable patients in one session and to have the support and involvement of so many other agencies. Thankyou.”

Elaine Chalmers-Brown, Director for Pilgrim Hearts Trust, said: “Working with Dr Natasha Price, Helen Snowden and their team, assisted by the Bracknell Forest Council Rough Sleeper Team and our volunteers, we were able to use the Pilgrim Hearts Drop-In to enable the vaccination of many rough sleepers and vulnerable people. This was great to see as vulnerable people are usually hard to reach and not able to access health care and the Covid-19 vaccine. Thank you to our team of volunteers.”

Cllr Dale Birch, Executive Member for Adults Services, Health and Housing, said: “We know that single homeless people are at risk of having poorer health than other sections of our community, so providing regular access to medical care and the COVID-19 vaccination is really important in protecting some of our most vulnerable residents.

“The take-up of the vaccine amongst people who are former rough sleepers has been really good – this gives them the best possible protection from the virus. Thank you to everyone who has enabled this important protective and preventative work to take place.”

If you are within the top five priority cohorts (aged 65 and over; clinically extremely vulnerable) and haven’t as yet had your 1st dose of the vaccine, then please make this week the week that you book for your potentially life-saving vaccine. Book at nhs.uk/covidvaccine.

For more about the COVID-19 vaccine programme, please see here: https://www.frimleyhealthandcare.org.uk/living-here/covid-19-vaccination/

Frimley Health and Care