News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Calls For Funded Influenza Vaccines For Mental Health Patients

The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand, along with members of the Aotearoa New Zealand Equally Well collaborative, are urgently requesting that Pharmac reconsiders its decision to exclude people living with mental health and addiction issues from the eligibility criteria for funded influenza vaccines.

The underpinning principle of funded influenza vaccines are that they are free for people who are most likely to get very sick or be hospitalised if they catch influenza.

Yet despite the evidence of the much higher rates of physical illnesses and poorer physical health outcomes of people with mental health and addiction issues, this group continue to be excluded.

Over the last few years, the Ministry of Health have made evidence-informed changes to policy to prioritise the physical health of people living with mental health and addiction issues. This includes the Diabetes Strategy, the Cardiovascular Risk Assessment guidance, and most recently the Cancer Action Plan.

“This exclusion by Pharmac is contrary to the prevailing evidence, it is unkind and discriminatory. At a time when this group of the population need our support most, says President of the Pharmaceutical Society, Ian McMichael.

Whilst approximately 50% of the adults in contact with specialist mental health and addiction services will already be eligible for the funded influenza vaccine because they are over 65, or because they have a diagnosed co-occurring physical health condition, the other 50% will not be, and of these many are living with undiagnosed physical illnesses due to lack of screening, diagnostic overshadowing, and barriers to accessing general practice services.

“This lack of a physical health diagnosis when one is present, is likely to be worse for Māori and Pasifika people living with mental health and addiction issues. This is why we need a diagnosis of a mental health or addiction issue to be within the criteria of chronic health conditions for funded influenza vaccines,” says McMichael.

This equitable access is needed now for these vulnerable people in the community as part of the Government’s efforts to immunise at risk populations against influenza in the current COVID-19 environment.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Charlotte Yates' Mansfield Project

Katherine Mansfield's vapid verses are of even less interest than her over-rated short stories, but Yates has risen to the challenge of producing a fascinating compilation album by a variety of musicians to accompany her poetry. More>>

Howard Davis: Dazed & Confused by Beats

Beats is both a coming-of-age tale and a romantic movie about endings, set to a nostalgic backdrop of the disappearing tail of the UK's illegal rave scene. More>>

Howard Davis: And The Oscar Goes To … Parasite

For its deliciously dark wit and genre-bending ingenuity, Bong Joon-ho's latest movie has just won four out of a potential six Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay and Director. Only ten foreign-language films have previously been nominated for Best Picture and none have won before. More>>

Howard Davis: 1917's 1,000 Yard Stare

Sam Mendes has created a terrible and barbarous trek, one that we appreciate all the more for being catapulted right into the midst of this ear-splitting melee from the film's opening sequence. More>>




  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland