Four Flemish researchers affiliated with the UA and KU Leuven argue in favor of vaccinating people with psychological problems as a priority. ‘We call for equal treatment for people with another chronic disease.’
People suffering from a severe psychosis, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression, are at greater risk of becoming infected with Kovid-19. And when they become infected, they become more seriously ill and die two to four times more than the average population. Therefore, they should receive a vaccine against Kovid-19 as a priority. Two Flemish psychiatrists, a health advocate and a psychologist, introduced this in their opinion The Lancet Psychiatry, Which appeared today.
One of them is psychiatrist Professor Mark de Hurt of UPC KU Leuven. ‘We want to see them just like other older patients. Because people with psychosis are at least vulnerable for all kinds of reasons. ‘
‘I’m not just talking about patients in psychiatric hospitals or PVT. But also about the vast majority who come to the clinic one day or receive ambulance care. There is a risk that they will not end up on the priority list, for example because many of them do not have a GP. ‘
This concerns an estimated 150,000 people, says de Herert: not a small group, but impossible to include in a vaccination strategy. ‘So they have already given priority to this target group in many countries, such as the US, United Kingdom, Netherlands and New Zealand.’
Stay in a group
There are both social and medical reasons that these people are more likely to contract the virus. They are more likely to live in groups, they have a hard time sometimes after taking precautions, they have a limited income so they cannot visit a security or doctor.
When they become infected, they are more likely to have severe symptoms. This is because they often have other chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. They smoke more often than average, and therefore suffer more from COPD, which limits their breathing – this is a serious risk factor for those who become infected with Kovid-19.
Their psychiatric illness also makes them extra vulnerable: they often sleep very badly, feel excluded and lonely and therefore experience a lot of stress. Prolonged stress affects the immune system. De Hurt: ‘We don’t want to get involved with vaccination, but we also don’t want these people to forget.’