Some psychiatric conditions may raise risk of breakthrough COVID-19, study finds

Vaccinated people with a history of certain psychiatric conditions may have a higher chance of contracting breakthrough COVID-19, according to a study published April 14 in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers from the University of California San Francisco and San Francisco Veterans Affairs Health Care System led the study, which involved EHR data from 263,697 VA patients. About 51 percent of the participants had received at least one psychiatric disorder diagnosis within the last five years. The disorders included depression, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, adjustment disorder, substance use disorder, bipolar disorder, psychosis, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, dissociation and eating disorders. 

Three findings: 

1. Of the 135,481 participants with at least one psychiatric disorder diagnosis, nearly 15 percent, or 39,109 people, developed a breakthrough COVID-19 infection. 

2. Overall, those with any psychiatric disorder had a 7 percent heightened risk of developing a breakthrough infection compared to patients with no psychiatric disorders.

3. Patients ages 65 and older with substance abuse disorder faced the highest increased risk for breakthrough COVID-19 at 24 percent, followed by patients in that age group with psychotic disorders (23 percent);bipolar disorder (16 percent); adjustment disorder (14 percent); and anxiety (12 percent). 

"Our findings indicate that individuals with psychiatric disorders may be a high-risk group for COVID-19, and that this group should be prioritized for booster vaccinations and other critical preventive efforts, including increased SARS-CoV-2 screening, public health campaigns, or COVID-19 discussions during clinical care," the researchers wrote. 

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