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Pennsylvania allows smokers to get COVID-19 vaccine first 

Pennsylvania is now allowing smokers to receive COVID-19 vaccine first alongside nurses and doctors because it’s a ‘high-risk medical condition’

  • Smokers can now receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the first phase of Pennsylvania’s rollout
  • The state added those with ‘high-risk medical conditions’ to its initial phase, which includes smoking
  • The state is currently still in its first phase of the rollout, which includes Health care personnel, those aged over 65 
  • Smokers are now eligible to receive the vaccine ahead of first responders, correctional officers, teachers, grocery store workers and public transit workers
  • Pennsylvania’s decision comes a week after New Jersey also changed its rules to include smokers 

Pennsylvania is now allowing smokers to be at the front of the line for COVID-19 vaccinations alongside nurses, doctors and nursing home residents.

Smokers became eligible to receive the doses first in the state after the Pennsylvania Department of Health added those with ‘high-risk medical conditions’ to the first phase of the vaccine rollout. 

Smoking is among the conditions deemed to be high risk.

The state is currently still in its first phase of the rollout, which includes Health care personnel, those aged over 65 and those aged between 16-64 with high-risk conditions.

So far, Pennsylvania has given out 643,000 of its 1.3 million doses. Pennsylvania is now allowing smokers to be at the front of the line for COVID-19 vaccinations alongside nurses, doctors and nursing home residents

Among the other high risk conditions are cancer, chronic kidney disease, Down Syndrome, heart conditions, obesity and pregnancy. 

Under the changes, smokers are now eligible to receive the vaccine ahead of first responders, correctional officers, teachers, grocery store workers and public transit workers. 

So far, Pennsylvania has given out 643,000 of its 1.3 million doses. 

The state administered 21,000 first doses and 4,400 second doses on Thursday.

The state’s health department said smokers were now included because they are considered to be at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19. 

NUMBER OF VACCINATIONS: So far, Pennsylvania has given out 643,000 of its 1.3 million doses. The state administered 21,000 first doses and 4,400 second doses on Thursday

NUMBER OF VACCINATIONS: So far, Pennsylvania has given out 643,000 of its 1.3 million doses. The state administered 21,000 first doses and 4,400 second doses on Thursday

Those aged in the 55-59 age category are the largest proportion to be vaccinated in Pennsylvania so far

Those aged in the 55-59 age category are the largest proportion to be vaccinated in Pennsylvania so far   

‘Pennsylvania has chosen to follow the CDC’s recommendations and include smoking among the list of medical conditions putting individuals at greater risk,’ a spokesperson said. 

To date, there has not been any widespread study done on how smokers are worse affected by COVID. 

Pennsylvania’s decision comes a week after New Jersey also changed its rules to include smokers. 

It is not yet clear how they prove whether or not someone is a smoker if they show up to get the vaccine. 

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a infectious disease expert and critical care physician in PIttsburgh, said smoking was associated with increased severity of the virus and could lead to hospitalizations. 

‘When people look at a vaccine allocation decision, it’s really being driven by what’s going to keep people out of the hospital,’ Dr Adalja told WTAE-4

Pennsylvania is now allowing smokers to be at the front of the line for COVID-19 vaccinations alongside nurses, doctors and nursing home residents. Pictured is Gov. Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania is now allowing smokers to be at the front of the line for COVID-19 vaccinations alongside nurses, doctors and nursing home residents. Pictured is Gov. Tom Wolf

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