Thursday, July 29
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People who meet California metric for obesity now eligible for vaccine – SF Gate

The state of California is allowing individuals with one of 10 comorbidities to get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday — including severe obesity, defined as having a body mass index of 40kg/m2 or higher, or more commonly referred to as a BMI of 40 or above.

To put this in perspective, a 5-foot, 6-inch adult weighing 250 pounds has a BMI of 40.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers anyone with a BMI of 30 and above to be obese, and the city of San Francisco is expanding the state’s definition for qualifying conditions and allowing those who are technically obese by CDC standards to get vaccinated.

In a nutshell: Californians with a BMI of 40 and above can get vaccinated, while S.F. residents with a BMI of 30 and above qualify for the shot.

The discrepancy between the state and S.F. qualifications is confusing some, as you need to go through the state’s My Turn website to sign up for appointments at S.F. city-run vaccine sites such as Moscone Center. The My Turn site requires users to check a box indicating they they are eligible for the vaccine; the obesity option indicates a BMI of 40 and above.

S.F. Supervisor Matt Haney addressed the issue on Twitter on Monday and wrote that S.F. residents can check the “40 and above” box if their BMI falls between 30 and 39.

“Anyone with a BMI 30 or over in San Francisco is also eligible for the vaccine beginning today,” Haney wrote on Twitter. When asked about issues with registering on the state’s website, he clarified, “It’s My Turn that is the issue. People still qualify and they should choose the 40>.”

The CDC offers an online tool that calculates your BMI. While the medical community defines BMI as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters, the tool uses the Unites States’ system of feet, inches and pounds.

CDC data from 2019 indicated that 26% of adults in Californian had a BMI of 30 or higher. This is lower than the national average of 42%.

Research has found that having obesity increases the risk of severe illness from COVID and may triple the risk of hospitalization due to infection, according to the CDC. Obesity is also linked to impaired immune function and decreases lung capacity and reserve and can make ventilation more difficult, the CDC said.

California opened up COVID-19 vaccines Monday to people with one of the following 10 conditions deemed “severe” by the state: cancer; chronic kidney disease of stage 4 or above; chronic pulmonary disease; Down syndrome; weakened immune system due to solid organ transplant; pregnancy; sickle cell disease; heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies (but not hypertension); severe obesity; and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Individuals with disabilities are also eligible, and the state provided many examples of people who fall into this category, including people who use regional centers, independent living centers, in-home supportive services, adult day health centers, Medi-Cal HIV/AIDS waivers and Medi-Cal home and community-based alternatives waivers, Medi-Cal assisted living waivers, California’s Children’s Services Program (if the child is 16 to 21 years old) and the California Genetically Handicapped Persons Program.

The California Department of Public Health released guidelines Thursday and said people with these high-risk conditions or disabilities won’t be required to provide documentation to verify their diagnosis to get vaccines, but they may be asked to sign a self-attestation that they meet the criteria.

The state recommended eligible people begin by reaching out to their health care providers. The state also suggests checking the My Turn website regularly as new appointments are added daily.

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