Shine welcomes Covid-19 vaccination prioritisation for people with severe mental illness

Following our call to the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and the Department of Health for the prioritisation of people with severe mental illness for the Covid-19 vaccination, Shine welcomes the revised Covid-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy announced by Minister Donnelly this morning. People with severe mental illnesses will now be prioritised within the high risk category for Covid-19 vaccine roll out. – Provisional Vaccine Allocation Groups (

Shine calls on the Department of Health and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee to prioritise people with severe mental illness for Covid-19 vaccine allocation

As of Feb 5th 2021, the Department of Health and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee have prioritised 15 Groups considered to be most at risk from COVID -19. People with severe mental illness are not included or prioritised in any group. Group 5 (People aged 65-69) and Group 7 (People aged 18-64) prioritise those with medical conditions*. Severe mental illnesses are not included as medical conditions.

Recent studies show that psychiatric disorders, and especially severe mental illness, are associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 infection, complications, and related morbidity and mortality.

Research shows that people with severe mental illness, including schizophrenia, major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder are more likely to develop a wide variety of physical diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and respiratory tract diseases. Many are already vulnerable due to the physical side effects they already experience from their psychiatric medication.

The WHO in their October Survey, 2020 says that:

“People with pre-existing mental, neurological or substance use disorders are also more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection  ̶  they may stand a higher risk of severe outcomes and even death.”

Shine’s family support groups are also sharing concerns about family members (experiencing severe mental illness) having difficulties following the different changing rules, restrictions, regulations and orientations shared by government in relation to the fight against COVID-19, therefore increasing the risk of becoming infected with the virus and infecting others in the household.

In light of this knowledge, Shine would like to ask the Department of Health and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, to consider prioritising people with severe mental health illnesses for Covid-19 vaccination allocation to mitigate the risks they are already exposed to and avoid further complications.

*Medical conditions include: Chronic heart disease, including hypertension with cardiac involvement; chronic respiratory disease, including asthma requiring continuous or repeated use of systemic steroids or with previous exacerbations requiring hospital admission; Type 1 and 2 diabetes; chronic neurological disease; chronic kidney disease; body mass index >40; immunosuppression due to disease or treatment; chronic liver disease; cancer; down syndrome; history of organ transplant; and sickle cell disease




Provisional Vaccine Allocation Groups, Government of Ireland:

World Psychiatry 20:1 – February 2021 55:

Lancet Psychiatry 2021: COVID-19 vaccination for people with severe mental illness: why, what, and how? – The Lancet Psychiatry

WHO October 2020 Survey Who October survey 2020

Shine Cork Resource Centre Survey

The Shine Resource Centre Cork is doing an online survey for people that are currently using our services or have used our services in the last two years (2018-2020). The purpose of the consultation process is to get feedback on your experience in using our services and what people may want from our service. The survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete.

If you would like to complete the survey please contact Tian Herbert on or 0868525147 before 5th March and a link can be sent to you.

The Board of Shine announces the retirement of CEO, John Saunders

Shine announces today that John Saunders has notified the Board of his intention to retire as CEO of Shine

Having reached retirement age, Mr Saunders has announced that he will retire from his role as Chief Executive Officer of Shine on 30th April 2021, after 20 years of service. The Board of Shine will begin the recruitment process for John’s successor immediately. John will continue in his role as CEO until his departure at the end of April and the Board will announce any interim arrangements in due course while the recruitment process is ongoing.

Mr Saunders said; “Since I joined Shine in 2001, the organisation has grown immensely and I am proud of the tremendous work that our teams, past and present, have done and continue to do providing recovery and person- centred support to the people who use Shine services. I feel confident leaving Shine in the hands of a dedicated Board of Directors and a committed and accomplished team who will undoubtedly pave the way for the continued growth and development of the organisation.”

Mark Synott, Chair of Shine said: “On behalf of the Board and staff of Shine, I would like to offer our sincere gratitude to John for his commitment, both personally and professionally to Shine over the past 20 years.  Under John’s leadership, Shine has grown and developed into the forward thinking, ambitious national organisation that it is today.  The staff and Board feel privileged to have worked with John and are enormously grateful to him for his many contributions. We would like to wish John all the very best for a long and happy retirement. The Board of Shine want to take this opportunity to reconfirm its commitment to continue to support the growth and development of Shine as it enters this new chapter.”



Karolyn Ward, Head of Advocacy and Communications