Did you know that if you have a complex mental health issue, you might be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine now?
The Australian Government states that 'adults with specified underlying medical conditions' are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as part of phase 1b, which is rolling out now. This includes people with 'severe mental health conditions'.
Phase 1b specifies that people living with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are eligible for a vaccine. However, if you have another mental health diagnosis you may still be eligible. You can discuss your needs with your GP or health care specialist for advice.
Carers (paid and unpaid) of an adult or child with a specified underlying medical condition are also eligible.
A list of some of the eligible conditions can be found at the Australian Department of Health Website.
Next steps to get the COVID-19 vaccination
You can check your eligibility through the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker. If eligible, you can view vaccination locations and book an appointment.
You can also find your nearest vaccination site by visiting your state or territory health department’s website.
The coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine helpline is available on 1800 020 080 to answer your questions, including what documentation you may need to bring to your vaccination.
Information for Victorians
- If you are aged 50 years and over, you can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine through a State vaccination clinic or your GP.
- If you are under 50 years of age, you are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine by booking at a State vaccination clinic.
To make an appointment call the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398. You can find your nearest Victorian vaccination site online.
Seeking support If you feel anxious about COVID-19
At SANE we recognise making sense of new information and uncertain situations can be hard.
If you need extra support, you can contact SANE’s free counselling services on 1800 187 263 or chat to counsellors online. Lifeline is also available on 13 11 14.
Tips for coping with anxiety around COVID-19
- Acknowledge how you are feeling in response to events. If you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, that is okay. Name these responses or even write them down in a journal or phone without judging them.
- Be kind to yourself. Try saying some kind words to yourself that you would say to a friend who is feeling the way you are. Self-kindness can also involve kind actions to yourself, like doing something you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Reaching out to a trusted friend or family member to share your anxieties and concerns can help you feel less alone. Others may also be able to assist you in dealing with challenging situations.
- Keep to your routines. Making sure you eat healthily, exercise, and get enough sleep can all help with managing feelings of anxiety and stress.
- Get accurate information. Limiting your information to quality sources such as the Australian Department of Health or healthdirect can help you to avoid misinformation or anxiety provoking headlines.
- Switch off when you need to. While it’s important to stay up to date with the news, keep an eye on how this impacts you. It’s okay to set limits on how often you check the news and to ‘mute’ any social media accounts that increase your anxiety.
- Focus on what you can control. Shifting your focus to what is in your control can help you feel less overwhelmed. When you are faced with uncertainty, planning what you will do to cope today, for the next hour, or even the next 5 minutes can be grounding.
Our supportive online forum community is also available 24/7. Visit the forums and share how you’re going with people who get it. It’s safe, anonymous, with counsellors and peer workers in the background.