Southend homeless get protection from flu and COVID-19 ahead of the worst of the winter months

Published on: December 7, 2023

People in vulnerable groups advised to book their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations by 14 December for maximum protection in time for the holidays and before the seasonal vaccination programme comes to an end.

An innovative Southend-based health service for the homeless has helped ensure some of our most vulnerable local people have been protected from becoming seriously unwell with flu by offering free vaccinations at a dedicated clinic for the homeless.

Southend’s homeless people were invited to get their winter vaccinations at the clinic on 22 November run by Southend Integrated Healthcare for the Homeless (SIHH), a primary care service for the homeless in Southend started by local GP Dr Haroon Siddique in 2019. SIHH also offered vaccinations for clients attending STARS drug and alcohol service and a local soup kitchen.

A key aim of Mid and South Essex Integrated Care System’s is to tackle persistent health inequalities, supporting people to access health services and prevent ill health.

Dr Siddique said:

“Winter is an extremely difficult time of the year for homeless people who, as well as being some of the most vulnerable members of the community can find it more challenging to access health services.

“Southend Integrated Healthcare for the Homeless was founded to help bridge that gap. This particularly vulnerable group are at risk of becoming seriously unwell from flu so it’s especially important that they are able to access their winter vaccinations.”

Anyone in a vulnerable group who is eligible for seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccination is advised to book now as the national booking system is due to close for bookings on 14 December.

Getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 by 15 December will help those most vulnerable to protect themselves and their loved ones ahead of the winter holidays as it can take up to two weeks after vaccination to build up maximum defences against the viruses.

Eligible local residents can book their flu and seasonal COVID-19 vaccination online at www.nhs.uk/wintervaccinations or via the NHS App by 14 December 2023.

Those who are eligible for winter vaccinations but don’t book before 14 December will still be able to get their vaccination at a walk-in clinic until 31 January when the seasonal COVID-19 vaccination programme ends. Information on walk-in clinics is available at www.midandsouthessex.ics.nhs.uk/health/winter/vaccination.

The 119 service, which provides booking support for those who can’t get online, will close for bookings on 14 December and queries on 22 December.

After 31 January, the COVID-19 vaccine offer will close. In most cases, people will have to wait until a future seasonal campaign. You will still be able to get your flu vaccine until 31 March, but you are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as you can.

Online bookings will reopen next year. The NHS will contact you if your NHS record suggests you may be eligible for a flu or seasonal COVID-19 vaccine.

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