FORE Grant to Addiction Policy Forum Will Link People with Substance Use Disorder to COVID-19 VaccineMarch 23, 2021
In a major effort to get COVID-19 vaccines to one of the most vulnerable populations, the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE) and the Addiction Policy Forum (APF) are launching an initiative to help people with substance use disorder (SUD) receive COVID-19 vaccinations. The work was launched with a March 23 webinar featuring Drs. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), who discussed addiction, COVID-19, and vaccines.
With FORE’s support, trained vaccine navigators will help people with SUD find and schedule appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations through a help line, website, app, and newsletter. They will also provide information and resources to answer people’s questions and address vaccine hesitancy. In a recent Addiction Policy Forum survey gauging COVID-19 vaccine readiness among people with SUD, nearly half (47%) of the participants reported they were unwilling to take the vaccine. This is despite research demonstrating that people with SUD may be at higher risk for contracting the coronavirus and may face more severe outcomes if they develop COVID-19 than the general population.
At the same time, people with SUD who want the vaccine may face challenges to obtaining it, including lack of awareness of eligibility rules that vary state to state and difficulties using complex online scheduling systems. Through the new program, vaccine navigators will help people find vaccination sites, identify appointment availability, and schedule appointments in their area if needed. They will also provide free, confidential support, evidence-based information, and connection to local addiction treatment and recovery resources to individuals who seek it.
A weekly newsletter for people in treatment or recovery will offer curated resources promoting wellness and help spread the word about the vaccine navigator program and encourage people to learn more.
To access or learn more about the vaccine navigators for individuals with SUD initiative, please call 833-301-HELP (4357) or visit Addiction Policy Forum’s COVID-19 Vaccine Navigator Initiative Page.