By Georgia Parsonson
An initiative led by students from the University of Queensland to vaccinate the homeless has received an “overwhelming response”.
The VacSeen Project covers the cost of flu vaccines and partners with existing health services to provide vaccinations to the homeless. It was an idea partially developed by UQ Medicine student and Project President, Jeremy Hunt.
“In a nutshell, we’re looking to address the fact that some people experiencing homelessness still pay for a flu vaccine out of their own pocket,” Mr Hunt said.
“Removing barriers to universal healthcare is something we are all passionate about.”
The VacSeen Project partnered with Inclusive Health Clinic in South Brisbane to facilitate the vaccination of over 300 at-risk people who otherwise would not be protected from the flu.
“We have also started talking to Brisbane Youth Service about extending the project to vulnerable people in the 15–25 age bracket,” Mr Hunt said.
“In 2022 and beyond, we want to establish an immunisation outreach program for areas not currently serviced.”
The project directors are UQ students studying Medicine, Business, or Law, and a Biomedical Science graduate now attending Griffith – and funds to support the project have been raised by donations from both organisations and individuals.
“Support for The VacSeen Project has been quite overwhelming, both in the monetary sense and the moral support aspect,” Mr Hunt said.
“People can donate via our website, or they can volunteer to work with us as a health professional.
“Our second key activity is advocacy, and this is an area in which we will become more prominent.
“We will call on the Queensland Government to follow the precedent set by South Australia in allowing the homeless free flu vaccines at an immunisation clinic or general practice.”
At present, approximately one in three homeless people do not qualify for free flu vaccines. Those who do are individuals aged 65 and over, pregnant, suffer from chronic health conditions, or identify as Indigenous.
If you wish to donate to The VacSeen Project, visit: https://www.vacseen.org.au/donation-portal.