As we have clear knowledge that obesity is associated with a higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection (see here and here), obesity is included in the prioritization list in some Canadian provinces for receiving the coronavirus vaccination. Unfortunately, we have seen not only backlash against people with obesity for being prioritized, but we have also heard about some people with obesity feeling shamed or embarrassed to go and get their vaccination on priority access.
Obesity Canada has published a beautiful infographic (headlined above) about obesity and the coronavirus vaccine. Ximena Ramos Salas, PhD, the Director of Research and Policy for Obesity Canada, has included a phenomenal blog about prioritization of the COVID-19 vaccine for people with obesity. As Dr Ramos Salas writes,
The science is clear. People living with chronic illnesses, including obesity, should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations. We must challenge weight bias and confront it when we see it in our society. We need everyone to challenge weight bias and stigma. Obesity Canada is thankful to journalists who have focused on science and educated the public about weight bias and obesity as a chronic disease. We are also thankful to patient advocates and healthcare professionals for standing up and sharing their voices to reduce weight bias during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are a person who qualifies for priority COVID vaccination for whatever reason, it is your right to get your vaccination on that priority list. I have heard some people with obesity say they feel that they don’t deserve to get the vaccination on priority. We are here to say, Yes, you do! Obesity is a chronic medical condition associated with a higher risk of severe COVID, just like the other chronic medical conditions on the list, such as diabetes or chronic kidney disease. And remember: it is nobody’s business but your own (and the person giving the vaccination) what the reason is for taking your rightful turn in line.
And for those who are feeling put out because someone with obesity is getting the vaccination before you: As Dr Ramos Salas writes,
The pandemic has shown that we all need to stand together and support each other. Let’s have more empathy and educate ourselves about obesity, rather than making assumptions and stigmatizing people for their condition, illness or body size and shape.
Remember that the order of vaccine priority is about vaccinating the highest risk people first, not only to save lives, but to keep our hospitals and health care system functional and able to help people with COVID AND non-COVID related health issues. We all benefit from this scientific, evidence-based approach!
Obesity Canada has compiled a list of each province’s guidance for the coronavirus vaccine rollout, so you can check if obesity is included in that list in your province (and at what BMI) here.
Share this blog post using your favorite social media link below!
Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen
www.drsue.ca © 2021