The news of the first Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved vaccine for COVID-19 on 2 December 2020, with plans for large-scale implementation of a vaccination programme in the UK and other countries, has brought great hope and expectation.
Vaccination will be a crucial step in reducing infection rates and offering a realistic way out of pandemic restrictions. However, there are limited supplies of vaccine, the logistics are challenging, and each country needs to prioritise who receives it first and in what order.
Dr Katharine Smith, Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, said:
‘Guidance on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination in the UK includes severe mental illness (in priority group 6), but the focus here and in other countries is on the single highest priority criterion met. In the real world, many people have multiple risks factors across mental and physical health, and we already know that they have a low uptake of preventative health strategies. Without more specific prioritisation and strategies to support uptake, our blog highlights the very real risk that this most vulnerable group will simply get left behind.’
Read the full blog at thebmjopinion.