The Role of Psychiatric Hospitals in the Equitable Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines
- Inpatient psychiatric facilities could potentially leverage their experience distributing influenza immunizations to offer COVID-19 vaccines.
- Successful distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by inpatient psychiatric facilities would require developing new processes within facilities and improving follow-up after discharge to ensure that patients receive the second vaccine dose.
- As states refine their COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans, they should engage IPFs and the broader behavioral health care system to assess the role that behavioral health providers could play in helping the populations they serve access vaccines.
This study examined the feasibility of positioning COVID-19 vaccines in inpatient psychiatric facilities (IPFs) based on their experience providing influenza immunizations and ensuring that patients receive follow-up care. We conducted descriptive analyse of three quality measures (influenza immunization, transmission of transition records, and follow-up care) reported by roughly 1,600 IPFs in 2018 merged with COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index data. We found that one-quarter of IPFs are in counties with high or very high COVID-19 vulnerability. On average, 84% of IPF patients were screened for influenza immunization status and received an immunization before discharge if indicated. Only 57% of discharges had their records transmitted to another provider within 24 hours and 50% had a follow-up visit with a mental health provider within 30 days. Follow-up care was worse in counties with high COVID-19 vulnerability.
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