People with some mental health conditions are now eligible for COVID boosters – CNET

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People with some mental health conditions, including schizophrenia and mood disorders such as depression, are eligible for boosters of COVID-19 vaccines, according to updated guidance by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to depression, other mood disorders include bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder. Additional lung and liver diseases and tuberculosis were also added to the list of qualifying conditions, the CDC announced on Twitter last week. 

Dr. Paul Offit, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the US Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel, told The New York Times that the change means about 85% of American adults are now eligible for COVID-19 boosters. 

“The door just keeps getting wider and wider,” Offit told The Times. 

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The country’s booster rollout program prioritizes people who may benefit from the increased protection a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine could bring. That includes people with underlying medical conditions that may increase risk for severe COVID-19 disease. The COVID-19 vaccines remain effective at protecting against severe disease, hospitalization and death. 

According to the CDC’s summary of its updates on underlying medical conditions, people with some mental health conditions were added to the list in September 2021 because research shows they’re more at risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19. 

One systematic review referenced by the CDC found that the highest COVID-19 mortality rate among people with mental health conditions was in those with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. People with anxiety disorders weren’t at an increased risk of death from COVID-19. 

Other adults eligible for a booster in the US currently include adults age 65 or older, everyone who received Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, people who live in long-term care facilities, and adults at risk of COVID-19 because of their work or setting. Immunocompromised people are also eligible for a third (and in some cases, fourth) shot.

The CDC’s recommendation on whether you need a booster varies in strength, and depends on your individual circumstances. Adults age 50 or older with a medical condition “should” get a booster, while people with the same condition but who are aged 18 to 49 “may” get one if they choose, for example.

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The current list of conditions that may increase the risk of severe COVID-19, according to the CDC, includes: 

  • Smoking or being a former smoker.
  • Having a BMI over 25. 
  • Pregnancy or being recently pregnant (within 42 days).
  • Cancer. 
  • Weakened immune system. 
  • Chronic kidney, liver or lung disease (including asthma and “possibly” high blood pressure).
  • Diabetes (type 1 or type 2).
  • Dementia or other neurological conditions.
  • Heart conditions.
  • HIV. 
  • Mental health conditions (including depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia). 
  • Down syndrome.
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia. 
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease.
  • Substance use disorder. 
  • Tuberculosis. 

In addition to those with underlying conditions, certain populations are more at risk for severe COVID-19 than others. Adults over age 65 are more likely to get severely ill. People who are from racial or ethnic minority groups are more likely to die from COVID-19 at a younger age, according to the CDC. People living with disabilities may also be more likely to have worse outcomes from COVID-19.   

The CDC says that as the coronavirus evolves, the agency updates its list of medical conditions that may make a person more susceptible to severe COVID-19 disease. According to the CDC, it isn’t a complete list, and patients concerned about their individual risk should talk with a medical professional. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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