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.
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: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/
World Psychiatry 20:1 – February 2021 55: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wps.20826
WHO October 2020 Survey Who October survey 2020