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Pennsylvania moves smokers to top of coronavirus vaccine list | TheHill – The Hill

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Jan 22, 2021

Pennsylvania has moved smokers to the top of its list for getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has added “persons ages 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions” to phase 1a of its vaccine allocation plan. Smoking is listed as a high-risk condition.

Health care personnel, long-term care facility residents and people 65 years old and older are also included in Pennsylvania’s phase 1a. The state is now in phase 1a of its allocation plan.

A spokesperson for the department told WTAE-4 in Pittsburgh that “Pennsylvania has chosen to follow the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations and include smoking among the list of medical conditions putting individuals at greater risk.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Health didn’t immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices currently recommends those aged 16-64 with medical conditions that increase their risks of severe COVID-19 to be included in phase 1c, but states are free to modify their distribution plans to their discretion.

The CDC says that smoking increases one’s risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Smoking weakens the immune system, which lowers the body’s ability to fight off disease.

The move comes as states expand eligibility in a rush to vaccinate more of its residents. CNN reported that New Jersey and Mississippi currently offer the vaccine to smokers, and several other states have smokers next in line. 

 

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