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Patients with mental illness a priority for COVID vaccine, experts say


 

An argument for fairness

Paul S. Appelbaum, MD, professor of psychiatry, medicine, and law at Columbia University, New York, also believes those with severe mental illness should be a priority group for a COVID vaccine.

“When we’re prioritizing groups for a COVID-19 vaccine, let’s not forget that people with serious mental illness have much lower life expectancies, more obesity, and more undiagnosed chronic conditions. They should be a priority group,” Dr. Appelbaum said in an interview.

“The argument for including people with severe mental illnesses among the vulnerable populations who should be prioritized for receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine is an argument for fairness in constructing that group,” he added.

“Like people with other chronic conditions associated with poor outcomes after SARS-CoV-2 infection, people with severe mental illnesses are more likely to be hospitalized and more likely to die. Although they are often systematically ignored when decisions are made about allocation of resources, there is some hope that, with enough public attention to this issue, they can be included this time,” Dr. Appelbaum said.

Dr. De Hert and Dr. Applebaum disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

This article first appeared on Medscape.com.

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