The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and the Canadian Network for the Health and Housing of People Experiencing Homelessness call on federal and provincial/territorial governments, COVID-19 Vaccination Task Forces and health system vaccination lead organizations to prioritize, during the earliest phase of COVID-19 vaccination programing, individuals experiencing homelessness, those staying in shelters, and the homelessness & housing sector staff who support them as a matter of urgent public health protection.
In order to protect society’s most vulnerable, we need to prioritize people experiencing homelessness alongside those in long-term care as being at risk by virtue of their congregate living environment, physical risk, and weakened support structures.
At a time when the best public health recommendations available suggest staying at home, limiting all contact with others outside immediate family members, and protecting oneself with masking and sanitizing supplies; not having a home makes it impossible to follow the only known effective strategies for protecting oneself and one’s communities. As a direct result, transmission rates of COVID-19 in the homelessness sector has been high across the country.
Some published evidence has suggested the rate of spread is 3X that of the housed population, often spreading like wildfire once the virus penetrates shelter spaces. The fear of COVID has pushed many individuals who use the shelter system outside into encampments, particularly in Canada’s largest cities. Many would rather sleep on the streets, exposed to the elements, and their attendant risks, than face the risk of COVID. Read the rest of this statement at The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness…
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Image: Vancouver, British Columbia / Canada – May 26, 2019: Homeless person sleeping in Vancouver’s downtown eastside (DTES) / iStockphoto