BMC Public Health. Volume 23, Article number: 1494.


People experiencing homelessness have elevated morbidity, increasing their risk of COVID-19 related complications and mortality. Achieving high vaccination coverage in a timely manner among homeless populations was therefore important during the mass vaccination programme in Wales to limit adverse outcomes. However, no systematic monitoring of vaccinations among people experiencing homelessness in Wales has been undertaken.


Retrospective cohort analysis was conducted using de-identified administrative data. Study cohort members were adults (≥ 18 years old) living in Wales on the 2 December 2020 and who had recently experienced homelessness, defined as experiencing homelessness between 1 July 2020 and 2 December 2020. The outcome of interest was first coronavirus vaccine dose. Follow-up started on 2 December 2020, and ended if the participant died, had a break in address history > 30 days, reached the end of follow up (30 November 2021), or had the outcome of interest. Median-time-to-vaccination was used as a crude measure of ‘timeliness’ of vaccine uptake. To account for competing risk of death prior to vaccination, vaccine coverage was described using cumulative incidence at 350-days, and at 50-day increments over follow-up (2 December 2020 to 17 November 2021). As a benchmark, all time-to-event measures were generated for the adult population in Wales with similar baseline individual and residential characteristics as the study cohort.


1,595 people with recent experiences of homelessness were identified and included in analysis. The study cohort were disproportionately male (68.8%) and concentrated in the most deprived areas in Wales. Median time-to-vaccination for the study cohort was 196 days (95% CI.: 184–209 days), compared to 141 days (95% CI.: 141–141 days) among the matched adult population in Wales. Cumulative incidence of vaccination after 350-days of follow-up was 60.4% (95% CI.: 57.8–62.8%) among the study cohort, compared to 81.4% (95% CI.: 81.3–81.5%) among the matched adult population. Visual analysis of cumulative incidence over time suggests that vaccine inequality, i.e., difference between study cohort and matched adult population, peaked after 200-days of follow-up, and declined slightly until last follow-up at 350-days.


Despite being prioritised for vaccination, people experiencing homelessness in Wales appear to have been under-engaged, leading to lower vaccination coverage and greater time unvaccinated, potentially increasing their risk of COVID-19 complications and mortality.