Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Board Chair fears people with mental illness and addictions are being left behind in vaccine rollout.

Published by Aandrea Murray on

Ministry of Health figures from January shows people accessing mental health and addition services have full vaccination rates lower than people in the general population. With people that access addiction support services have Covid-19 vaccination rates 19 percent lower than the general population, and mental health service users have rates 9 percent lower than the general population.

Wano says some people accessing those services were being left behind in the rollout. He warns that the same mistakes could not be repeated and this time around, a community-centred approach was the way forward.

“People who use mental health and addiction services are more likely to be exposed to the virus and, if exposed, are more likely to become seriously unwell”.

“We cannot speak highly enough about the targeted efforts of Māori and Pacific community providers as well as other service providers and churches, who have contributed to a huge turnaround in rates of vaccination for Māori and Pacific communities,” he said.

“This is the kind of targeted approach that is needed to ensure that people who experience mental distress and those who experience addictions have equitable and timely access to the vaccination.

“These groups require active engagement and, in many cases, the best parties to do that are the community-led service providers.”

Read more in a recent article featured in the NZ Herald here.