As part of National Mental Health
Month (1-31 October) the Charles Sturt University Equally Well research team, will host a free webinar to raise awareness on equitable access to vaccines for those at risk and hard-to-reach populations.
The public webinar ‘Vaccination - Achieving Equity of Access’ is at 12pm to 1pm on Thursday 21 October and is presented in conjunction with the national Equally Well Alliance, a national group that promotes the physical health of people living with mental illness.
Representatives from government, not-for-profit, and community sectors will offer their perspectives, experiences, and suggestions on how to improve access to vaccines for those living with mental illness, to be followed by a question-and-answer session.
Professor of Management Russell Roberts in the Charles Sturt School of Business is Editor in Chief of the Australian Journal of Rural Health and National Director of Equally Well Australia.
Professor Roberts said that equitable access to vaccines is a fundamental human right which is currently not being met for COVID-19 or other potentially life-saving vaccines.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended countries take proactive measures to prioritise those who are vulnerable and socially disadvantaged when it comes to vaccine access,” Professor Roberts said.
“Yet in many countries the mentally ill are excluded or delayed from vaccine programs because of systemic failures within health systems.
“The success of the COVID-19 vaccines has shown how targeted and supported vaccine programs can save lives, reduce pressure on the health care system, and save money by preventing hospitalisations.”
Key topics to be covered include:
- Vaccination – achieving equity of access
- Exploring solutions
- Sharing innovation
- Supporting personal agency for people experiencing mental illness.
Presentations will be made by:
- Dr Ruth Vine, Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer for Australia. Dr Vine will discuss the Australian policy and program response on access to vaccines for those living with mental illness.
- Associate Professor Grant Sara, Director of InforMH at the Department of Health NSW. Professor Sara will discuss research data on inequitable access to vaccines for those living with mental illness.
- Dr Chris Freeman, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Dr Freeman will discuss pharmacists in the context of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and their unique role in delivering vaccines to those living with mental illness.
- Danielle Austin, Senior Nurse and Incident Response and Disaster Manager at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. Ms Austin will outline the approach St Vincent’s has taken to identify those experiencing homelessness, and what St Vincent’s has done differently to improve access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Ms De Backman-Hoyle, community member. Ms Beckham-Hoyle will present her personal account from the perspective of someone living with mental illness trying to gain access to vaccines.
To register your attendance at the ‘Vaccination – achieving equity of access’ webinar visit the Equally Well website.
The session will also touch on Charles Sturt University and Equally Well’s position on a Global Call to Action Declaration that was started in October 2021 by members of the International Equally Well Alliance.
The Global Call to Action has been developed and launched by an international group of leading scientists, public health, community leaders and experts by experience. It is calling for urgent action to remove barriers to accessing vaccines for preventable disease for people living with mental illness and substance use disorders.
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