Mental health workers at high risk receive Covid-19 vaccine

  • Greater Manchester Mental Health vaccination programme provides staff with Covid-19 vaccine
  • More than 2,000 staff receive their first vaccine
  • Inpatient mental health services fight to manage spread of the virus 

Greater Manchester Mental Health (GMMH) has launched a vaccination programme for staff fighting to keep patients and themselves safe from the virus.

More than 2,000 staff have received their first coronavirus vaccine and another 1,000 have booked vaccination slots.

The programme offers staff an online booking system on the GMMH website that offers staff a choice of slots adhering to the two-dose vaccine course.

Julie Smith, a support worker at Laureate House, Wythenshawe, described her experience of severe side effects from her first vaccine dose, including body aches, a fever, coughing and loss of taste and smell.

She feared she had the virus, but her test results were negative.

“I’m a bit sceptical about having the second one because I don’t want to feel the way I did after the first one,” she said. 

Julie is concerned about receiving her second vaccine dose after severe side effects

However, for Julie, who works in one of the largest acute mental health wards in the country, having the vaccine is essential in order to protect herself and her loved ones.

Consisting of 31 patients and with regular admissions, Julie and her colleagues on the Bronte ward are at high risk of contracting the virus.

Julie said: “Working on a mental health ward during the virus is really difficult because a lot of them don’t have any insight into the virus, so they refuse to self-isolate for some many days. 

“They even refuse the swab sometimes and hygiene is not always to a standard that we need to combat this virus.”

Laureate house inpatient mental health facility in Wythenshawe

Karen Crichton, also a support worker on the Bronte ward, echoes similar worries about trying to manage patients’ mental health as well as the spread of the virus.

She said: “I think it creates more risk because we have no control over who they see and where they go.”

Both Julie and Karen await their second vaccine which will be administered 12 weeks after having the first one.

GMMH provide a total of 875 inpatient beds across 28 wards in Manchester’s hospitals, which cater to individuals suffering from all types of mental health problems.