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Priority vaccination for mental illness, developmental or intellectual disability


Coronavirus vaccines have made their debut. Now, allocation practices have stepped into the spotlight. Following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, states and healthcare institutions initially prioritised healthcare personnel and elderly residents of congregant facilities; other groups at elevated risk for severe complications are now becoming eligible through locally administered programmes. The question remains, however: who else should be prioritised for immunisation? Here, we call attention to individuals institutionalised with severe mental illnesses and/or developmental or intellectual disabilities—a group highly susceptible to the damages of COVID-19, recent research shows, and critical to consider for priority vaccination. The language describing both federal-level and state-level intentions for this population remains largely vague, despite the population’s diversity across age, diagnosis, functional status and living arrangement. Such absence of specificity, in turn, leaves room for confusion and even neglect of various subgroups. We review data stressing this group’s vulnerability, as well as select state plans for priority vaccination, highlighting the importance of clarity when describing intentions to vaccinate, or even generally care for, diverse populations composed of distinct subgroups in need.

  • COVID-19
  • resource allocation

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