Pennsylvania moves  smokers to front of COVID-19 vaccine line

Pennsylvania moves smokers to front of COVID-19 vaccine line

January 22, 2021

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Puffing on cancer sticks may actually keep you from getting sick in Pennsylvania — at least when it comes to COVID-19.

The state is bumping smokers to the front of the vaccine line because the habit makes you more vulnerable to the illness, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said Friday.

All people aged 16 to 64 with “high-risk medical conditions” — including being hooked on cigarettes — were added to the first phase of the Keystone State’s coronavirus vaccine distribution plan, WTAE-4 reports.

“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,” a rep for the state’s health department told the station.

Smokers are now eligible for the potentially life-saving shots along with health care workers, nursing facility residents, and people aged 65 under Phase 1A of the plan.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the state will verify whether a person is a smoker, and a health department spokeswoman didn’t immediately return the Post’s request for comment Friday

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that people aged 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions should be included in Phase 1C of the vaccine allocation plan. But each state is free to tweak the plan however it sees fit.

New Jersey and Mississippi are also currently offering the vaccine to smokers under the age of 65.

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