Covid-19: Oldham prioritises homeless in vaccine roll-out

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Lee Ullha receives an injection of a Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in OldhamImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Lee Ullha said he was "over the moon" to get his vaccination on Wednesday

Rough sleepers and those living in shelters have been made a priority group to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in a town in Greater Manchester.

Oldham Council and local GPs decided that, to protect "the extremely vulnerable", homeless people should be vaccinated along with the over-80s.

The clinic was organised by Dr Zahid Chauhan who said putting them in the first wave was "the human thing to do".

Lee Ullha, who was made homeless last March, said he was "over the moon".

Dr Chauhan, who is also an Oldham councillor with responsibility for health and social care, gave the first 30 people the vaccine at the Depaul UK shelter.

"These are the most extremely vulnerable people, the life expectancy is 43, 45, there is a reason why their life expectancy is so low," he said.

"You don't give up on people because they don't have resources and they have not been privileged like me and you.

"You don't give up, that's not what we do as British, these are not our British values. We help people, we pull them together."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Dr Zahid Chauhan said protecting the vulnerable is "the human thing to do"

Mr Ullha, 46, and his partner Kelly Heney, 38, were living in a park after being made homeless 10 months ago, but now live at the homeless shelter.

He said: "We got evicted when this Covid thing kicked in, so we didn't really watch TV, so we didn't really know much about it.

"It's scary, especially with the new strain of Covid, I don't think people take it as serious as it is, you see people walking round without their masks and they're all saying, 'It's not a real thing, it's all make believe.'

"It's important to get it done. It's for your own safety."

Ms Heney said: "I'm excited and so happy that we have actually just had the Covid injection because it's a big thing."

More vaccination clinics are being planned in the coming weeks.

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