for better mental health

Covid-19 vaccine and mental health

Explains which mental health problems are included in priority groups for a Covid-19 (coronavirus) vaccine, and what to do if you have not yet been invited for a vaccination. Gives tips on how to prepare if you are worried about having your vaccination.

Does having a mental health problem put me in a priority group for vaccination?

If you are an adult (aged 16 or over) in England or Wales and you live with a severe mental illness, you should now be offered a Covid-19 vaccine.

Government guidance defines severe mental illness as including people with:

  • a diagnosis of schizophrenia
  • a diagnosis of bipolar disorder
  • any mental health illness that causes severe functional impairment. This means any mental health problem that has a big impact on your daily life, and makes it hard to do day-to-day activities.

You could also be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine if you are a carer for someone with a severe mental illness.

How to access a vaccine appointment

Normally, you will be invited to make an appointment when it is your turn for Covid-19 vaccination. You may receive a letter, text or email. You might be contacted by the NHS, or by your own GP.

You may also be able to book an appointment directly if you belong to another priority group. For example, if you are older than a certain age. The NHS has more information on who can book a vaccine appointment online.

If you think you have a serious mental illness but you have not been invited for a vaccination, you can contact your GP. 

They should be able to tell you if you are already on a priority list. If you are not, they can discuss with you whether you can be added.

Tips if you're worried about your vaccine appointment

If you're feeling worried or anxious about getting your Covid-19 vaccine, you could try some of these ideas:

  • Find out where your vaccination will be, so you know what to expect. It could be at a vaccination centre, a local health centre, a hospital or at your GP surgery. 
  • Take someone with you. You can take a carer with you into your appointment if you need to.
  • Arrange something to look forward to afterwards. For example, this could be a nice meal, a chat with a friend or a film to watch.
  • Use relaxation techniques like focusing on your breathing, grounding techniques or distracting yourself with music or a book. See our pages on relaxation for more ideas.
  • Ask what support there is. Your GP should be able to tell you if there's any flexibility in where you attend your appointment. At the appointment itself, the person giving you the vaccine may be able to use things like numbing cream if you are worried about pain or sensations.

More information and support

This information was last updated on 4 March 2021.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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