Mental Health Conditions Put Patients at Higher Risk of COVID-19; CDC Recommends Booster Shots

Aaron S. Weinberg MD, MPhil
October 28, 2021
2 mins

COVID-19 has led to a mental health crisis around the world — increases in depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns have been documented in numerous studies. And the connection between COVID-19 and mental health seems to go in both directions: in an October 14 report, the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) added mental health conditions to its list of risk factors that may put a person at greater risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19, and recommended booster shots for people with certain mood disorders such as depression or other conditions like schizophrenia.

According to the report, which cited two studies, people with severe mental conditions who contract COVID-19 are more likely to require a ventilator, to be hospitalized, or to die from the disease. (It's unclear how these mental health issues affect the severity of the illness.)

Read “A Time of Loss: Coping with Grief in the Era of COVID-19.”

Patients with schizophrenia are at an even greater risk of dying from COVID-19 than senior citizens, another high-risk group, according to one study.  

Roughly 20 million people in the United States are diagnosed with mood disorders, with more than 2.6 million adults having schizophrenia, according to the CDC report, and more than 19 million people had a depressive episode in 2019 (before the pandemic). 

Who’s Eligible for a Booster Shot

According to the CDC, as of this writing, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after their initial series:

For people who received a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine six or more months ago:

     • People 65 years old or older

     • People 18 years old or older who live in long-term care settings

     • People 18 years old or older who have underlying medical conditions

     • People 18 years old and older who work or live in high-risk settings

For people who received a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine two or more months ago:

     • People 18 years old or older.


Carbon Health’s medical content is reviewed and approved by healthcare professionals before it is published. But note that our knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 are developing and changing very rapidly; if you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 precautions, treatments, and vaccinations, please talk to your healthcare provider.

Aaron S. Weinberg MD, MPhil

Aaron S. Weinberg, MD, MPhil, is Director of Program Development at Carbon Health and triple board-certified in Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Internal Medicine.