ATLANTA — With the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expanding in Georgia Monday, one factor opens up the door to many Georgians. That group is for anyone who is overweight or obese by medical standards.
You are medically considered overweight, according to the CDC, if your body mass index (BMI) is over 25.
If you are an adult who stands 5-foot-5 and weighs 150 pounds, your BMI is right at 25, according to this CDC calculator, intended for adults 20 years and older. Same goes for one who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 175 pounds.
According to the CDC, BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. It does not measure body fat directly, but BMI is moderately correlated with more direct measures of body fat.
So why is this now a factor considered by the Georgia Department of Public Health to get a vaccine?
The CDC released the results of a small study showing, out of the COVID patients who were hospitalized between March and December of last year who needed ventilators and ultimately died, 28% of them were overweight and about 51% were obese.
“It’s not a perfect measure, but it’s a standard measure, and that’s why it’s utilized,” Dr. Sujatha Reddy told 11Alive. She runs the calculation daily at her medical practice.
“No one should feel that they’re taking advantage or being shamed by the system – being overweight is a risk factor,” she said.
Still, some people bristled at the label.
“I’ve never been the self conscious type, so it doesn’t bother me at all,” Ryan Clifford said.
He didn’t know his BMI off-hand, but when his wife told him he might now qualify to get vaccinated, he jumped at the chance.
“No, no I had no idea. I just looked online and realized that I would be far above that,” he said.