Association of Mental Health Providers

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Promoting Equitable Uptake of the Covid-19 Vaccine for People with SMI

People with Severe Mental Illness (SMI) are eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccination as part of Priority Group Six of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations (JCVI) prioritisation.

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. Therefore, it is vital that we all work collectively to ensure this group of people are supported to access vital preventative health care, including the Covid-19 vaccination.

Tailored outreach and engagement focused specifically on supporting people with SMI to access their vaccinations will be vital over the coming months to ensure equitable uptake of the vaccination and VCSE providers are extremely well placed to deliver this outreach.

£12m is available nationally for all STPs/ ICSs to deliver tailored outreach and engagement for people with SMI, increasing access to physical health-checks and to ensure uptake of flu and Covid-19 vaccinations in every STP/ ICS. We know that many STP/ ICSs will currently be refining their plans for outreach structures this year and we would urge VCSE providers to work with system partners to re-iterate the role your organisation can take in promoting equitable uptake of the vaccine for people with SMI. 

Examples of what this outreach could look like are:

  • 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.

Some STPs/ ICSs are already with VCSE partners to deliver this outreach. Examples include:

  • Somerset has commissioned peer support workers via the Open Mental Health initiative to provide peer support.
  • Derby and Derbyshire CCG has commissioned re-think mental illness to provide support and outreach to people to promote the uptake of flu vaccination, comprehensive physical healthchecks and supporting readiness for covid-19 vaccinations (as appropriate).
  • County Durham and Tees Valley has supplemented existing VCSE outreach structures, which includes local branches of MIND.
  • Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has commissioned VCSE organisations to deliver community engagement workers who have been targeted at working closely with older adults and BAME service users.

Further resources are available here.