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The evidence on COVID-19 risk for people experiencing mental health and addiction issues

An expert advisory group convened by the Equally Well backbone team published a position statement in January 2021. It states there is strong evidence to support adults with mental health and addiction issues being prioritised for COVID-19 vaccination within the population group ‘people with relevant underlying health conditions’.

Te Pou undertook a literature scan to inform the position statement. This evidence update summarises key findings from the scan. It concludes there is an independent association between the experience of mental health and addiction issues and a higher likelihood of infection with, and poor outcomes from, COVID-19. It is clear from this evidence that if vaccination prioritisation is based simply on the physical health conditions that this group typically experience, this would exacerbate existing health inequities. This evidence update therefore helps inform the Equally Well collaborative and others to take action, increase awareness, and advocate for the need to include people with experience of mental health and addiction issues as a priority group for vaccination rollout.

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