Oldham GP says Government Covid booster plan is "tactless"

Date published: 21 September 2021

An Oldham doctor has hit out at the Government's Covid vaccine booster programme, after it was confirmed that the homeless will not be prioritised for the vaccination.

Dr Zahid Chauhan OBE - who is also a Labour councillor - says Britain's "most vulnerable group" will be left prone to Covid, as well as a predicted flue epidemic.
The GP, who is a managing partner at Royton Medical Centre, was speaking in the wake of the Government guidance on managing an anticipated winter health crisis. Dr Chauhan says with a life expectancy of just 43, rough sleepers should be included in a drive to vaccinnate at-risk groups.

"Mr Johnson has clearly learned nothing from the first vaccine roll-out when he took a blunderbuss approach where only age and profession mattered.  Or perhaps he decided who should be first based on who he thinks is deserving and who isn’t.  

"The homeless have shot immune systems and face a potential double whammy of another variant of COVID and then a flu outbreak caused by people mixing together once again. They need to be a priority. Without protection and with the added cold weather, I do not rate their chances of making it through the winter."

Dr Chauhan, who received the OBE for services to the homeless, has written to the PM twice to urge him to do more to protect rough sleepers. He subsequently organised the world’s first Covid-19 vaccination clinic for the homeless plus a Greater Manchester wide drive to provide them with masks and other protective equipment.

"I am supportive of the Government’s plan to dually protect care home residents and their staff with a third Covid jab and a flu injection – but here was the opportunity to protect everyone who is vulnerable and save lives." he continued. "After the last couple of years, I would have thought Mr Johnson would prioritise spending on health over everything else, with widespread and urgent vaccination programmes as a top priority."  

Currently, people aged 50 and over, health and social care workers, and younger people at risk are being offered a booster dose of coronavirus vaccine.

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