The vulnerability of Persons with Severe Mental Illnesses (SMIs) to all forms of infection, including the COVID-19 virus infection, is well established. Many factors contribute to this vulnerability, including the neglect of self-care, poor living conditions, compromised immune status, and possible inadequate COVID adherent behavior, amongst other factors. This high risk is quite similar for those living in homes with families, as well as in those living in Institutions. The other group of SMIs with higher risk includes the Homeless SMIs on the streets and those residing in temporary shelters. All these groups of SMIs are also unlikely to be aware or cognizant of the need for testing, nor are they likely be keen for proactive vaccination.
Amongst the SMIs Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorders, Paranoid Disorders etc are much at higher risk for COVID-19 infection. As such, the priority Groups for Vaccination besides the other high risk groups should include Persons with Severe Mental Illnesses (SMIs), not only as a clinical & public policy consideration, but also as a Human Rights point of view. The protection of SMIs, through COVID Vaccination would be in line with the
compassionate and considerate policy of the Govt. of India.
The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS), on behalf of persons suffering from SMIs and their families, would like to urge the NEGVAC to actively consider including SMIs as one of the Priority Groups.