Newly arrived asylum seekers have been given the coronavirus vaccine at a special clinic set up in Glasgow.
The first patients received the injection on Friday after being given a full once-over by medics at the base in Govan.
“The people we are seeing don’t know the community, they don’t know where to go,” said Stewart Curtis, leader of the Asylum Health Bridging Team.
“I wouldn’t even try to imagine what some of our service users have left behind and what some of them have gone through just to get here.
The team supports people who may have been victims of trafficking and women who may have been subject to abuse or FGM (female genital mutilation).
Craig Davidson, a senior nurse who helped to administer the first vaccines, said: “People have been really positive about getting access to the vaccine – to protect them and the wider community.
“We want to make sure that asylum seekers get the same access to health care and the Covid vaccine as the rest of the population.”
Asylum seekers already settled in accomodation were targeted in earlier vaccination outreach programmes, or have been able to get their jab at community clinics.
But this has not been available to everyone so Stewart came up with a way of making sure they could get jabbed too.
Following an initial health assessment, the patients are invited back to the clinic for the Covid vaccine, with accommodation provider Mears, arranging transport.
Stewart said: “We’re the first point of NHS contact for them. We are that friendly face and space, somewhere they feel comfortable and we can have the vaccination clinic here, where people know us and feel they are in a safe and supportive environment.
“It’s about building trust. We support them through the traumatic experience they have been through and at least 95% have been through a traumatic journey just to get to the UK.”
The team leader said seeing the positive impact his staff are having on each individual’s life has made him particularly proud.
Nurse Davidson, who began his career in May 2020, said: “I used to work in a ward treating patients who had COVID and dealing with a high level of death and trauma was, for me, really hard.
“It’s great to see this side with people who are so pleased to get the vaccine in the knowledge that it will protect them and the wider community.”