Around 600 homeless and vulnerable people are being invited to get Covid-19 vaccines at a surgery.

GPs at the Meadowell clinic at Watford Health Centre are targeting groups most at risk if they contract coronavirus, after Watford Borough Council confirmed it will support rough sleepers throughout the vaccination programme.

With rough sleepers not having mobile phones to receive an alert when eligible for a vaccine, it has become the role of GPs to urge homeless people to become registered.

Vulnerable people such as homeless people, sex workers and some traveller communities are among those who are being targeted.

Dr Martha Ford, a GP with special interest in substance misuse, inclusion health and treating hepatitis C in primary care, said: “We have around 600 registered patients. They range from some rough-sleeping, others in hostels or without a permanent address – often these are living with friends, in a car or van and sometimes on a boat.

“To help them, the clinic has provided walk-in access, longer appointment times and can support people with financial and housing problems.”

Dr Ford said it is vital to vaccinate the homeless because if they have chronic illnesses, such as lung disease and hepatitis, their chances of death with Covid-19 are higher and figures show the average homeless man dies aged 45 and for women it’s 43, which is 30 years lower than the general population.

It was said that ID or proof of address is not necessary to sign up to the scheme, and any information that is passed on will be treated with confidentiality.

Central Watford clinical director Dr Daljit Khalo said the only limits to the programme was vaccine supply.

He said: “We are working hard and at speed and there is good uptake overall.

“But it is not as a simple as putting someone in a category, supply is the issue. We’re not getting the correct amount of vaccine we should be getting.

“We have invited some people who are homeless a couple of times and they haven’t attended. The next step is to take the vaccine out to them in the shelters, hostels and temporary accommodation.

“We have also come across a mistrust of vaccine and our aim is to put together a video featuring local faces to tackle misinformation.”

Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor previously said: “The vaccination programme offers us all hope after such a difficult time and, by protecting the most vulnerable, we are also protecting the wider community."