During the COVID-19 pandemic, Welsh Government prioritised people experiencing homelessness as part of the mass vaccination programme in Wales. Prioritisation was based on global evidence highlighting worse health outcomes among people experiencing homelessness, potentially leading to COVID-19 complications and death should they become infected by the virus.

ADR Wales researchers explored the uptake of COVID-19 vaccination among people who had recent experiences of homelessness. Researchers used de-identified healthcare and substance use services data to find people recently experiencing homelessness in Wales, and combined this with information on COVID-19 vaccines delivered by the National Health Service Wales.

The study found that people with experiences of homelessness had lower vaccination uptake compared to the general population, on a scale that was in line with other international studies.

In addition to evidencing vaccine prioritisation, this analysis demonstrates the benefits of having routinely generated information relating to the experience of homelessness, and the need to improve these data collections in Wales and the UK.

Findings have helped policymakers and service providers in Wales to assess the scale of vaccine inequality, and the effectiveness of efforts to prioritise people experiencing homelessness.