Healthy Living: Obesity added to high-risk conditions for vaccine distributions — does that make you eligible?

Healthy Living

When state health officials expanded the list of people who can get the coronavirus vaccine in Phase 1A, they added a dozen high-risk conditions for those aged 16-64. With this expanded access, more than three million Pennsylvanians can get the vaccine.

One of those populations, is obese or severely obese people with a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or greater.

How do you know if that includes you?

Dr. Ann Rogers, a bariatric surgeon with Penn State Health, says in America, that is one-third of the population.

“BMI or body mass index is a rude way of determining the amount of body fat a human is carrying,” explains Dr. Rogers. “It is a calculation based on height and weight.”

To calculate your BMI, click here.

While Dr. Rogers admits BMI isn’t a perfect way to classify health because it doesn’t account for lean muscle mass, she says it is the closest thing doctors have for easily figuring out who is overweight, obese or severely obese.

“Obesity and severe obesity shorten your lifespan. whether or not you have associated medical problems,” explains Dr. Rogers. “It also increases your risk for 14 different types of cancer and obesity-related diseases like diabetes.”

The medical problems associated with obesity have been linked to complications if someone contracts the coronavirus. For this reason, Dr. Rogers was thrilled to see obesity added to the vaccination list but admits adding this population may flood the system.

“I think it’s totally appropriate just like taking age into consideration and a lot of other health issues,” says Dr. Rogers, “I don’t know if we have the wherewithal to vaccinate everyone in phase 1A because we don’t have the supply of vaccines.”

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