Grant Sara

Grant is the Director of InforMH, System Information and Analytics Branch, NSW Ministry of Health, and Principle Investigator for the NSW Mental Health Living Longer data linkage project. He is a Clinical Associate Professor in Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, and Honorary Professor, Faculty of Health, Macquarie University.



Title: Vaccine preventable hospitalisation in mental health consumers: a booster is needed

Author(s): Grant Sara, Michael Lau, Wendy Chen, Myu Arumuganathan, Fred Wu

Introduction: COVID-19 has highlighted the essential role of vaccination in preventing serious illness. Mental health service users have low vaccination rates for a range of conditions, but there is little evidence about the impacts of this. Understanding rates of vaccination-preventable illness, and the groups most affected, may help in targeting service and system improvements. Our aim was to describe rates of potentially preventable hospitalisation due to vaccine-preventable conditions in adults using NSW mental health services.

Method: Using linked data from the NSW Mental Health Living Longer Project, we calculated hospitalisation rates for vaccine-preventable conditions, such as hepatitis, influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia. Rates were standardised for age and socio-economic disadvantage, comparing more than 178,000 mental health service users to the NSW population.

Results and findings: Mental health service users had a more than four-fold increased risk of admission for vaccine-preventable conditions (aIRR 4.7, 95% CI4.5 – 5.0), with even higher risks for consumers aged 40-65. One-quarter of excess potentially preventable bed days in mental health service users were due to vaccine-preventable conditions, including respiratory illness. New data will be presented on specific conditions and groups of consumers with the highest hospitalisation rates.

Discussion: Low vaccination rates have substantial impacts for mental health consumers. Strategies to overcome barriers and support vaccination uptake could have quick and substantial benefits for individuals and health systems. Supporting uptake of COVID-19 vaccination will be essential to avoid further amplifying health inequalities for people using mental health services.

Grant Sara