SEATTLE — Several states have moved on to the next tier of their COVID-19 vaccination plan. But many people are wondering if they will get bumped up in the vaccination eligibility line if they have multiple medical or pre-existing conditions.
However, the answer isn’t uniform across the United States as it depends on which state you live in.
To verify, we checked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health from various states, and we also consulted with NBC News Medical Correspondent Dr. Vin Gupta, who is a pulmonologist at the University of Washington.
The CDC identifies 25 underlying medical conditions, or “comorbidities,” as having the highest risk of a more serious illness or death from a COVID-19 infection. Of those 25, 11 are singled out as the worst, including, but not limited to, cancer, kidney disease, obesity, pregnancy, and type-2 diabetes.
“There are a lot of considerations here,” explained Gupta. “But the way I would think about this is, if you have a pre-existing condition that impacts a vital organ that COVID also impacts preferentially, like the heart or lungs, you [will go] at the top of the list.” Gupta added, “Anything that impacts your immune system as well is top of mind [for getting] vaccines to those who are most vulnerable.”
Within each group of comorbidities, like people with type-2 diabetes, a person’s weight and the medications they take can also increase their risk of COVID-19.
As more vaccines become prevalent, like the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine, the need to differentiate so minutely between comorbidities will lessen.
For now, we can verify if you have you have two or more serious medical conditions that are on your state’s list, you will get a prioritized spot in line. However, when that time will come is still in the air.