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), including people aged 65 years and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions. 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.
The VacSeen Project has two key objectives.
Free flu vaccines
First, provide those experiencing homelessness or other significant hardship with free flu vaccines. This year, we have partnered with the Inclusive Health Clinic in South Brisbane and Brisbane Youth Service in Fortitude Valley to facilitate the vaccination of over 200 homeless people. That is 200 at-risk people who would not otherwise be protected from the flu. In 2022 and beyond, we aim to establish an immunisation outreach program in areas not currently serviced, to help further reduce barriers to immunisation.
Our second key activity is advocacy. Ideally, our organisation will be able to focus on delivering vaccines, rather than having to spend a significant proportion of our funds purchasing vaccines. We will call on the Queensland State Government to follow the precedent set by South Australia by introducing a state-wide program to allow those experiencing homelessness to access free flu vaccines at any immunisation clinic or general practitioner. Our advocacy team will gather data from the 2021 program and work with stakeholders to achieve this goal.
HOW WILL MY DONATION HELP?
In 2021, we have partnered with Inclusive Health Clinic and Brisbane Youth Service. They service patients who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or those who don't want to attend regular GP clinics. Every year, they attempt to vaccinate all of their patients against the flu, but can't afford to help those who aren't covered under the NIP. Last year, this was 300 people.
That's where we (and you) come in. We are helping the clinic to purchase the vaccines, covering the costs and assisting them where we can. Each vaccine costs $15, and your donations are used to purchase those vaccines that are needed. Fortunately, we have corporate partners that cover our administrative costs, so the entirety of your donation directly benefits those who wish to be vaccinated against the flu.
We have plans in motion to set up our own immunisation clinic in 2022, and look forward to your ongoing support.
If you have any further queries, please get in touch!