Homeless people aged over 16 can now get the Covid vaccine, the UK government has announced.
The decision was based on a recommendation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that rough sleepers be included in the vaccination rollout alongside 'cohort 6' - those aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions - who were offered the jab last month.
Speaking about the decision, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said it will save more lives.
He said: "Our vaccination rollout is moving at an incredible speed with two in every five adults now having received at least one vaccine. It's so important that nobody gets left behind in this national effort.
"We know there are heightened risks for those who sleep rough and today I have accepted the advice of the independent experts at the JCVI to prioritise those experiencing rough sleeping or homelessness for vaccination alongside priority group 6.
"This will mean we will save more lives, among those most at risk in society.
"As a government we have stepped in to protect the homeless throughout the pandemic, housing over 37,000 people through the 'Everyone In' campaign, and providing over £700 million to tackle rough sleeping this year.
"The vaccination programme is just the next step in this important work."
According to the latest figures from Public Health England, a total of 23,053,716 people have now received the first dose of a vaccine.
Figures also show that 93.7 percent of elderly care home residents have also had their first dose.
The Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi, said it was vital the most vulnerable in society had access to the vaccine.
He said: "This is a very challenging period for people who are homeless.
"We know those experiencing rough sleeping or homelessness aren't always able to access healthcare routinely and therefore can often have a range of health issues which can leave them at an increased risk of this virus.
"Following the recommendation by the JCVI local teams will now be able to prioritise this group for vaccination alongside priority group 6 and make sure fewer people fall seriously ill or die from COVID-19."
Earlier this month, Twitter announced it will be cracking down on accounts that repeatedly publish misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines..
Featured Image Credit: PA
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