A COVID-19 vaccination programme begins today for thousands of homeless people in Spain. Around 30,000 have been left behind in the inoculation rollout.
The administration has begun a tailored plan to make sure everyone gets the vaccine, even if they live on the streets.
At one of the largest homeless shelters in the country, nearly 300 residents finally received the jab. Queues were long at the San Isidro centre.
Angela Alfonsa, a 67-year-old resident is happy and relieved to be immunised. "Now that I am vaccinated thank god, I am very relieved, and I thank all the doctors and all those who have made it possible."
The homeless have been one of the groups most exposed to the virus, with limited access to face masks and hygiene. Vaccinating them has posed many challenges for health authorities. The Janssen vaccine which requires only one shot has made things easier.
Maribel Cebrecos Del Catillo, Director of San Isidro Homeless hailed the move.
"This is a great advance because the risk of not being able to locate the person for a second dose is quite big in the case of the homeless population," he said.
Spain has immunised 20% of its population. Nearly 90% of people over 60 have had at least one dose. Caretakers and NGOs had been demanding the homeless be considered an especially vulnerable group to speed up their vaccination.
"Providing access to health services to the homeless is essential, as a matter of Public Health, and also because this population is more likely to suffer higher morbidity than the average population. And moreover, because it's their right (to health care)," said Dr María Fernández, Vice President of the Spanish Society of Community and Family Health.