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A call to Equally Well champions to reach out to tāngata whai ora

At 6 September 2021, only 19% of people in contact with specialist mental health and addiction services have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The evidence is clear, people with mental health and addiction issues are at risk of poorer health outcomes if they become infected with COVID-19. This evidence was recognised in the Ministry of Health’s vaccination roll-out plan when people with mental health and substance use issues were prioritised in Group 3 for earlier vaccination.

However, in a review of current data (as of 6 September 2021) the COVID-19 vaccination rate for people accessing DHB specialist mental health and addiction services was approximately 19%. This includes tāngata whai ora who have received both doses of the vaccine. While rates are somewhat higher for people in the over 65 age group, ranging from 41-80% depending on DHB, these figures are relatively low considering the compounding risk factors.

When comparing rates of vaccination for tāngata whai ora of mental health and addiction services across Aotearoa, 20% of mental health and 14% of addiction service tāngata whai ora are currently fully vaccinated; 44% of mental health and 35% of addiction service tāngata whai ora have received one dose.

With Delta looming over the motu, these figures are worryingly low for one of the most at-risk populations already at high risk of premature mortality. It is time for ALL health and community services to become proactively engaged in the wellbeing of tāngata whai ora.

Links to useful information

COVID-19 vaccination questions and answers for tāngata whai ora

The evidence on COVID-19 risk for people experiencing mental health and addiction issues

It is an especially important time to achieve equity in supporting the physical health of people with mental health and addiction issues. Be proactive – reach out to tāngata whai ora.

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