If you are an adult (aged 16 or over) in England or Wales and you live with a Severe Mental Illness, you should now be offered a Covid-19 vaccine. You should have received a letter, text or phone call from your GP with the details on next steps when the vaccine is available in your area. Please speak to your GP surgery or your health care worker if you have not.
Government guidance defines severe mental illness as including people with:
- a diagnosis of schizophrenia
- a diagnosis of bipolar disorder
- any mental health illness that causes severe functional impairment. This means any mental health problem that has a big impact on your daily life, and makes it hard to do day-to-day activities.
You could also be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine if you are a carer for someone with a severe mental illness.
People with SMI face reduced life expectancy when compared to the general population and we know that some people may require additional support to access their Covid-19 vaccination.
To find out more about the vaccination, please visit the NHS website.
If you need any reasonable adjustments to make it possible for you to have your vaccination, please ask for them when you are contacted to make your appointment. Examples where this might be necessary include:
- A longer appointment time or one later in the day;
- Somewhere quiet to sit while you wait for your appointment;
- Asking if a carer/friend/your peer support worker could accompany you to your appointment;
- If you are housebound and not able to travel to a place that is providing vaccinations;
- If you need a sign-language service
Information for Providers of Mental Health and Wellbeing Services
Videos and guides have been produced by the NHS and Public Health England in lots of community languages to reassure people that vaccines are safe and effective. You can find these here.
Additional support for people with SMI could include:
- Proactive contact via telephone or text message, based on the individual’s preference/ in-person visits to people who may struggle to access the vaccine independently.
- Offer 1-2-1 conversations to address fears and concerns to patients or carers.
- Offering peer support to attend appointments.
- Sharing further information about the vaccine to support greater understanding of its benefits.
Further third sector resources are available online:
- Equally Well have a guide for people with severe mental illness and their carers on what to expect from the Covid-19 vaccine as well as tips for how to engage people in health services.
- Rethink Mental Illness' guide to the Covid-19 vaccination for those living with severe mental illness.
- Care Provider Alliance website has information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme for social care staff and people using care services.