COVID-19 vaccine inequality found among people experiencing homelessness in Wales, study suggests

Rates of vaccine uptake for this group were almost 20% less than for people with similar characteristics who had not experienced homelessness. The study also found that the rate at which the COVID-19 vaccine was provided was slower for people with recent experiences of homelessness, compared to the general population.

As part of this study, researchers from ADR Wales based at Cardiff University analysed de-identified, linked administrative data made available by the SAIL Databank. A cohort of people who experienced homelessness just prior to the start of the mass vaccination program in Wales were followed over a year-long period.

Despite people experiencing homelessness being prioritised for COVID-19 vaccines in Wales (and the UK), no systematic monitoring of vaccine uptake among this group has previously been undertaken.

This study, led by Dr Ian Thomas, Co-Investigator at ADR Wales, forms part of one of several projects under the ADR Wales Housing and Homelessness research theme. The study was published in the BioMed Central (BMC) Public Health journal.

Professor Peter Mackie, from the Cardiff University School of Geography and Planning, said: “Our previous research showed that Welsh Government, local authorities, and third sector partners came together extremely effectively to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst people experiencing homelessness. However, this second study shows that efforts to vaccinate this population were far less effective. Important lessons must be learnt about providing clearer guidance, resources, and actively monitoring implementation.“  

The team’s previous research on COVID-19 infections among people experiencing homelessness in Wales can be read in the International Journal of Population Data Science.

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