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.


This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Cite as

Murphy, S., O'Reilly, D., Owen, R., Akbari, A., Lowthian, E., Bedston, S., Torabi, F., Beggs, J., Chuter, A., de Lusignan, S., Hobbs, R., Robertson, C., Katikireddi, S., Sheikh, A. & Bradley, D. 2022, 'Variations in COVID-19 vaccination uptake among people in receipt of psychotropic drugs: cross-sectional analysis of a national population-based prospective cohort', The British Journal of Psychiatry. http://dx.doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2022.36

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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