Sydney [Australia], December 16 (ANI/Xinhua): Australian researchers called for people with serious mental illness to be given priority access to Covid-19 vaccines when they become available, according to a statement released Wednesday.
The researchers from Australia's University of Queensland (UQ) cited past studies that have shown people with serious mental illness are more likely to be infected with the virus and suffer poorer health outcomes and higher death rates when they are.
"People with serious mental illness should be included with other priority groups, including Indigenous people, older adults, and people with physical health comorbidities if a vaccine is developed that is deemed safe and effective," Professor Dan Siskind from UQ said.
Siskind added that preemptive measures should be taken in anticipation of difficulties with ensuring uptake within the group.
"Evidence from existing vaccination programs suggests that there could be challenges in vaccinating these groups at both an individual and public health level," he said, as they may not be as willing to adopt preventative measures, such as vaccinations.
He explained that some people with mental illnesses may believe that vaccines are unsafe, or even are the cause of the disease.
He suggested using existing physical health programs and administering vaccinations from mental health clinics to help increase uptake.
"Mental health professionals are uniquely skilled to help educate people with serious mental illness, and can deliver individualized and clear messaging based on the barriers to vaccination," he said.
"They can play a key role in advocating for priority access to a Covid-19 vaccination for those with serious mental illness, as well as facilitating its uptake." (ANI/Xinhua)