Homeless people are at particular risk for a Covid 19 infection. After all, staying home or washing your hands regularly isn’t so easy when you don’t have a roof over your head. That’s why Denmark is now prioritizing homeless people in the vaccination schedule. 200 of them received the first partial vaccination between February 15 and 16.
The Covid 19 pandemic is hitting homeless people particularly hard. Staying at home, washing hands regularly and social distancing are hardly feasible for homeless people. For this reason, several Danish charities are working together to move homeless people to the front of the vaccination queue. The Danish vaccination strategy follows a 12-step plan: the population is divided into target groups. Homeless people fall into target group 10 and, as it stands now, are scheduled to be vaccinated in early April. Homeless and socially disadvantaged people who are at particular risk can “move up” to category 5 and will be vaccinated earlier. This category includes people with illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease or immune deficiencies.
Doctor’s visit as a requirement for vaccination
However, this “step up” requires a doctor’s visit. Only when a doctor’s estimation finds the individual to be at particular risk of a serious reaction to the virus will they move up to category 5. This approach has been met with criticism from nonprofit organizations that advocate for the rights of homeless people in Denmark: Since homeless people can rarely benefit from the country’s health services, the additional prescribed doctor’s visit is another obstacle.
“Unfortunately, homeless people are not automatically put in category 5. We have the impression that almost all of them would, however, if they had the opportunity to see a doctor”
says a member of Gadejuristen (Danish for: street lawyers). Gadejuristen is an NGO that provides legal advice to vulnerable people at the street-work level.
Homelessness in Denmark
According to VIVE, the Danish Center for Social Science Research, 6,431 people are currently homeless in Denmark. 200 of them were administered the first partial vaccination between February 15 and 16, 2021, through the nonprofit organization Gadejuristen, after having undergone a medical examination.
Denmark has been vaccinating since December 27, 2020. The country’s goal is to immunize the whole population by the early summer months of 2021. With a 3% share of fully administered vaccinations (measured by total population), the northern European country secures second place (after Malta) in the vaccination ranking within the EU.
Vaccinations for homeless people in other countries
But Denmark is not the only country thinking about its homeless citizens: Covid 19 vaccination initiatives for homeless people also exist in the Vatican, in communities of Detroit in the United States, and in parts of Montreal in Canada. In Austria, homeless people are part of the extended risk group. This group is expected to be vaccinated in Phase 2, with a planned vaccination start in March 2021.