Action Alert

OFCAN Advocates for Individuals with Severe Mental Illness to Receive Shortened Interval For 2nd Covid-19 Vaccine Dose

ONTARIO, CANADA, May 27 2021 – Research has indicated that people with severe mental illness (SMI) are at a significantly increased risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID even after factoring for medical and demographic risk factors. 1,2,3,4,5  In a statement to the Toronto Star (April 30, 2021), CAMH reported that people with complex mental illnesses are not only at high-risk of contracting COVID-19, but a diagnosis of severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, can increase the risk of serious illness and death from the virus. 

Studies have shown that individuals with SMI are at 7-10 times more likely to contract COVID-19 and have a two to three times higher mortality rate than the general population,3,6,7 second only to the risk for people aged 80 years and older.2, As well, SMI has been associated with a weaker immune system, and potentially a weaker immune response to vaccination1.    

As COVID-19 vaccines have rolled out in Ontario, mental health care providers and advocates have encouraged the inclusion of people with mental illness to be prioritized for vaccine allocation strategies.7,6 Thankfully, the Ontario government has responded and those with SMI are eligible to receive their first dose of COVID 19.

The province has started to identify priority groups for shorter wait time intervals between vaccine doses, however individuals with severe mental illness are not included even though their risk is second only to people over 80 years old.

With our knowledge of barriers and co-morbidities of people with SMI, Ontario Family Caregivers’ Advisory Network (OFCAN) is adding to the advocacy efforts in requesting shorter wait time intervals between vaccine doses for individuals with a severe mental illness.

Add your Voice. Sign the Letter!

Urgent! Shorter interval for 2nd Covid-19 vaccine for people with Severe Mental Illness

This petition is now closed.

End date: Sep 24, 2021

Signatures collected: 25

25 signatures

To: Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
Cc: Hon. Christine Elliott, Minister of Health, Hon. Michael A. Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, Hon. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, Monique Taylor, Critic, Mental Health and Addictions, France Gélinas, Critic, Health, Joel Harden, Critic, Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities, Taras Natyshak, Critic, Ethics and Accountability  

People with severe mental illness (SMI) are at a significantly increased risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID even after controlling for risk factors. These individuals are 7-10 times more likely to contract COVID-19 and have a two to three times higher mortality rate than the general population. In fact, their risk is second only to people over 80 years old. As well, SMI has been associated with a weaker immune system, and potentially a weaker immune response to vaccination.

Mental health providers and advocates have encouraged the inclusion of people with mental illness to be prioritized for vaccine allocation strategies. Thankfully, Mr. Ford, you have responded to include those with SMI to be eligible to receive their first dose of COVID 19. 

People with SMI face significant barriers to health care, having difficulty receiving care for their physical illnesses, often due to stigmatization and negative attitudes about mental illness.  Mr. Ford do the right thing for this vulnerable population! 

Please ensure shorter wait time intervals between Covid-19 vaccine doses for individuals with a severe mental illness.

Other Possible Steps for Individuals and Organizations, including Family Advisory Councils:
  1. Collaborate with internal partners working on vaccination information and decision-makers within your organization. Reach out to partners to inquire about ways to be involved and share the family perspective.
  2. Contact your local public health unit.
  3. Share information on social media (e.g. the scientific research). See the Covid-19 Vaccine Information Sheet and References including links document

As a topic of mutual interest for OFCAN stakeholders we have attached a downloadable sample email to send to hospital and public health partners.

Thank you for your consideration and support.

Board of Directors of Ontario Family Caregivers’ Advisory Network