Variations in COVID-19 vaccination uptake among people in receipt of psychotropic drugs: cross-sectional analysis of a national population-based prospective cohort

Siobhán Murphy, Dermot O'Reilly, Rhiannon K Owen, Ashley Akbari, Emily Lowthian, Stuart Bedston, Fatemeh Torabi, Jillian Beggs, Antony Chuter, Simon de Lusignan, Richard Hobbs, Chris Robertson, Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, Aziz Sheikh, Declan T Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has disproportionately affected people with mental health conditions.

AIMS: We investigated the association between receiving psychotropic drugs, as an indicator of mental health conditions, and COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

METHOD: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of a prospective cohort of the Northern Ireland adult population using national linked primary care registration, vaccination, secondary care and pharmacy dispensing data. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses investigated the association between anxiolytic, antidepressant, antipsychotic, and hypnotic use and COVID-19 vaccination status, accounting for age, gender, deprivation and comorbidities. Receiving any COVID-19 vaccine was the primary outcome.

RESULTS: There were 1 433 814 individuals, of whom 1 166 917 received a COVID-19 vaccination. Psychotropic medications were dispensed to 267 049 people. In univariable analysis, people who received any psychotropic medication had greater odds of receiving COVID-19 vaccination: odds ratio (OR) = 1.42 (95% CI 1.41-1.44). However, after adjustment, psychotropic medication use was associated with reduced odds of vaccination (ORadj = 0.90, 95% CI 0.89-0.91). People who received anxiolytics (ORadj = 0.63, 95% CI 0.61-0.65), antipsychotics (ORadj = 0.75, 95% CI 0.73-0.78) and hypnotics (ORadj = 0.90, 95% CI 0.87-0.93) had reduced odds of being vaccinated. Antidepressant use was not associated with vaccination (ORadj = 1.02, 95% CI 1.00-1.03).

CONCLUSIONS: We found significantly lower odds of vaccination in people who were receiving treatment with anxiolytic and antipsychotic medications. There is an urgent need for evidence-based, tailored vaccine support for people with mental health conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-424
Number of pages8
JournalThe British Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
Early online date7 Mar 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Mar 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Adult
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents/therapeutic use
  • Antidepressive Agents/therapeutic use
  • Antipsychotic Agents/therapeutic use
  • COVID-19 Vaccines/therapeutic use
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives/therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychotropic Drugs/therapeutic use
  • Vaccination


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