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‘At-risk’ homeless people first in line for Covid vaccine

‘Priority’: Lee Ullha is inoculated at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham PICTURE: PA

HOMELESS people are being given the Covid jab in Oldham after councillors and GPs decided they should have priority.

The Greater Manchester scheme — the first of its type in the UK — aims to protect rough sleepers and those living in shelters from the virus.

Oldham Council and local doctors made the decision at the start of the roll-out. About 30 people have been vaccinated at a clinic set up at a Depaul UK shelter for the homeless, with more jabs planned.

Dr Zahid Chauhan — also an Oldham councillor — said homeless people should be on the priority list because, along with those aged 80 and over, they are more at risk from the virus.

He said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted. It is setting an example for the rest of the country, rest of the world, and saying, “Please don’t ignore these people.”’

Lee Ullha, 46, who lives with his 38-year-old partner Kelly Heney at a shelter, was among those who took up the offer.

He said: ‘We got evicted when this Covid thing kicked in — that’s why we were living in the park. So we didn’t really watch TV; we didn’t really know much about it. It’s scary, especially with the new strain of Covid. I don’t think people know it’s as serious as it is.’

Dr Chauhan said he is still canvassing the government to put the homeless at the head of the queue nationwide.

He said: ‘That’s the human thing to do. You don’t give up on people because they don’t have resources and they have not been privileged like me and you.’