'Severely obese' eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, people who are overweight can still qualify for vaccine

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Starting this week, people with conditions that put them at the highest risk from COVID-19 can now get the vaccine. Health conditions include people who are severely obese, which the state defines as a person with a body mass index of 40 or higher.

The city of San Francisco, however, decided to loosen the criteria, allowing anyone with a BMI of 30 or above to get vaccinated.

Across the Central Valley, more than 35% of adults are considered obese.

County health officials said despite that number, they do not plan to adjust the state's requirements, but if you think you're at-risk of becoming extremely sick from COVID-19, there is still a way you can qualify for the vaccine now.

"There's already so much changing already and we don't want to add to any confusion or mixed messages," said Dr. Rais Vohra, the interim health officer for the Fresno County Department of Public Health. "I think the actual number is not as critical as just recognizing that obesity is a risk factor."

According to a report published by Valley Children's Hospital in 2019, it shows nearly 37% of adults are considered obese with a BMI of 30 or greater.

That's 10 percent higher than the state average for obese adults.

But Dr. Vohra said because of the way the guidelines are written, he doesn't see the need for change.

"I think that there's enough kind of leeway for a doctor or a patient to make that judgment call," said Dr. Vohra.

Dr. Vohra said people who believe they are at greater risk of severe illness if they contract COVID should talk to their doctor. Their doctor can write them a note, making them eligible for the vaccine.

If you don't have access to a doctor, you can fill out a Fresno County attestation form.

You don't have to identify your health condition, you just have to check the appropriate box and sign the document.

"I think that having a consistent message, especially one that allows for clinical judgment the way that the state has wisely created the list that they've created, I think that's going to serve us for the time-being," Dr. Vohra said.
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