Are smokers cutting in line for COVID vaccine? (Opinion)
At first blush this seems unfair. Maybe at second and third as well. Smokers are now being grouped in with elderly and people with underlying conditions like severe asthma or type 1 diabetes as regards who gets a COVID-19 vaccine when.
This adds about 2 million to the vaccine line just in smokers. When I first heard it my gut reaction was how unfair considering you can’t help your age, and you can’t help things like severe asthma or type 1 diabetes. Smoking you can help. Smoking is a choice and the single most unhealthy choice a human being can make. More Americans die every year from smoking related illness than have died so far in this country from COVID-19.
So is it right that this unhealthy habit is voluntary yet it puts them now in the same category as an 80 year old or someone who was born with a disease they had no control of?
Then I thought, let’s approach this through comparison. Let’s make sure this isn’t just an emotional gut reaction. What about not type 1 diabetes where it is not lifestyle induced but type 2 diabetes where it often is? Type 2 diabetes is the far more common one. It’s an underlying condition that will move you up in the vaccine line. More than 90% of diabetics are in this category and it is often brought on by being overweight. Yet there is a family disposition to developing it. So some overweight people just never develop it.
Okay, then let’s talk strictly about being overweight with no other underlying condition. Should it also push you into the category of receiving your vaccine sooner? Again, my gut would say no, because it’s something that was in your control and you didn’t tend to it. Mind you, this is coming from someone who himself is overweight. Yet on the vaccine registration website in New Jersey that is one of the check off boxes.
Even at that, while mostly in your control weight gain can be something you’re genetically predisposed to or brought about by medication taken for other issues. Come to think of it, studies have shown genetic variants that make some people more likely to smoke than others.
So is it an outrage that smokers are being treated as if they have an underlying condition, as if they can’t help it? It doesn’t need to be answered. Because the fact is they are much more likely to die if they get infected with this novel coronavirus, so putting our natural judgmental nature aside, yes they should be added to the list. Eventually we will all get the vaccine if we want it, and until then we need to remain careful. In the end, we all have our kryptonite.
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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.