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COVID 19 Vaccine Information

Should I be considered a priority for the COVID 19 vaccine?

People aged 16-64 with severe mental illnesses are now eligible for vaccination against COVID-19, in vaccination priority group 6. The government body JCVI defines severe mental illness as including people with ‘schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or any mental illness that causes severe functional impairment.’ [1]

NHS England has issued guidance recommending that GPs take a flexible approach to the interpretation of who is eligible under cohort 6, using clinical judgement and taking into account other factors that might put people at risk of COVID-19. [2] Recent guidance has stated that this could include people who are severely unwell with an eating disorder. [3]

Therefore, we would recommend getting in touch with your GP stating the impact of your eating disorder, to discuss vaccination. You can also discuss any concerns with your mental health team, if you are in contact with one. We understand that this process may feel daunting. To support with this, we have put together a letter template for you to send to your GP surgery (see below).

The advice to speak with your GP regarding vaccination is also supported in Wales and Northern Ireland. [4, 5] Although the advice for Scotland has not emphasised GP discretion as of yet, we still encourage you to contact your GP and check your eligibility. We will update this information if we find out more.

I am a carer of a loved one with an eating disorder, should I be considered a priority for the COVID- 19 vaccine?

The government guidance states that if you are a carer for a loved one with an SMI, then you do qualify as a priority for the vaccine. [6] We would advise using this letter  to send to your GP, to state your role as a carer to someone within group 6. Due to changes in vaccination supply in April 2021, booking for unpaid carers will now take place via GP surgeries only. [7]

I didn’t qualify as a priority for the vaccine but still feel really worried about COVID-19, what should I do?

We understand the uncertainty and anxiety that COVID-19 has caused. If you haven’t been prioritized after assessment, then this is due to your risk from COVID-19 not being elevated. At this point, it is important to continue to follow the guidance stated to all UK residents of handwashing, social distancing and staying at home where possible. [8]

We also appreciate the huge psychological impact of COVID-19 and how difficult this can be. Please do see our advice here, and reach out to our support services if you are understandably struggling during this difficult time.

Tips for if you are feeling worried about your vaccine appointment

It is understandable that you may be feeling anxious about your vaccine appointment. Remember to ask for any modifications that may make you feel more at ease. This could include:

Staff, volunteers and patients at vaccination sites will be wearing face masks to help minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. The NHS understands that some people are not able to wear a face-mask. If this applies to you or the person you care for, then we recommend that you let the team know when you book your appointment.

Supporting letters

References

  1. Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation
  2. Vaccination of Cohorts 5,6
  3. NHS Blog - If you have an SMI the time to get your COVID Vaccine is now
  4. Welsh Government - COVID 19 Vaccination
  5. PHA NI - COVID-19 Guidance for Adults
  6. Greenbook Chapter 14a Feb 2021
  7. COVID-19 Vaccine - Stakeholder Q&A, April 2021, P.32
  8. Stop the Spread