Parity of esteem: A global COVID-19 vaccination approach for people with mental illnesses, based on facts from 34 countries; recommendations and solutions.

Document Type


Publication Date



BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has detrimental effects on physical and mental health. Patients with severe mental illness are at higher risk of contracting the virus due to social determinants of health. Vulnerable populations include the elderly, people with pre-existing conditions, and those exposed to SARS-CoV-2. Unfortunately, only a few countries have updated vaccination strategies to prioritize patients with mental illnesses. Therefore, we aimed to explore whether individuals with mental disorders are prioritized in vaccine allocation strategies in different world regions. They are often neglected in policymaking but are highly vulnerable to the threatening complications of COVID-19.

METHODS: A questionnaire was developed to record details regarding COVID-19 vaccination and prioritizations for groups of persons with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), mental disorders, and substance use disorders (SUDs).

RESULTS: Most countries surveyed (80%) reported healthcare delivery via a nationalized health service. It was found that 82% of the countries had set up advisory groups, but only 26% included a mental health professional. Most frequently, malignancy (68%) was prioritized followed by diabetes type 2 (62%) and type 1 (59%). Only nine countries (26%) prioritized mental health conditions.

CONCLUSION: The spread of the coronavirus has exposed both the strengths and flaws of our healthcare systems. The most vulnerable groups suffered the most and were hit first and faced most challenges. These findings raise awareness that patients with mental illnesses have been overlooked in immunization campaigns. The range of their mortality, morbidity, and quality of life could have widened due to this delay.

Publication Title

Ind Psychiatry J





First Page


Last Page