Although people who are homeless tend to have substantially higher rates of illness than the broader population, they often lack access to effective healthcare services.
Barriers preventing people who are homeless from accessing primary care can be both personal and practical and include competing needs and priorities, illness and poor health itself, physical access to health services, difficulty in contacting services, medication security, and the affordability of health care.
The VacSeen Project was established because we saw a need to breakdown the cost and accessibility barriers in helping vulnerable populations access flu vaccines, and now as an organisation we have expanded our offerings to cover more health issues, as well as provide an opportunity for non-judgemental conversations around health.
The VacSeen Project has two key objectives.
Free and accessible healthcare.
We run GP-led pop-up outreach health clinics in places people feel most comfortable, homeless shelters, hostels, social housing and alongside partner organisations. We aim to take medicine outside of medical settings, removing costs and increasing accessibility. At these clinics, our doctors and volunteers chat to people about their health, provide education, and help deliver both flu and COVID vaccines. Currently, we are involved with clinics in Brisbane, Redcliffe, Ipswich, Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast and Townsville.
The Australian Immunisation Handbook, published by the Australian Government Department of Health, strongly recommends that homeless people receive the influenza vaccine every year. Some at-risk groups are eligible for free flu vaccines under the National Immunisation Program (NIP). However, people experiencing homelessness who don't fall under these categories are expected to pay for their own vaccine.
This out-of-pocket cost is a barrier to quality health care that simply should not exist for at-risk groups, especially those experiencing homelessness or other significant hardship. This is a view that we share with the South Australian Government, which in 2020 implemented a state-wide program to provide free flu vaccines for homeless people. We are working with AMAQ and the QLD Government to introduce a similar initiative in QLD, to help make healthcare more accessible for those most vulnerable.
HOW WILL MY DONATION HELP?
We are entirely volunteer run, and are supported by corporate partners that cover our administrative costs; the entirety of your donation directly goes towards running clinics and helping increase our ability to provide health advice and vaccination services to people experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable groups.
It costs us approximately $15 per vaccine we deliver (in terms of cost of vaccines, equipment and other support), and your donations are much needed to support us to expand our clinic offering!
If you have any further queries, please get in touch!