Pennsylvania health officials this week moved to prioritize smokers for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health’s phase 1a vaccine distribution plan — the state’s current phase — now includes “persons ages 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions,” with smoking listed.
According to the state’s vaccine rollout plan, smokers in Pennsylvania are prioritized above educations workers, first responders, and postal service workers, among other groups.
“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 health department spokesperson told local news station WTAE-4 in a statement.
Indeed, the state’s expansion to include those with underlying conditions — including smoking — is in line with CDC guidance for those who are considered to be at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Even so, not all residents are thrilled with the move — with one Pennsylvania woman telling WTAE-4 that she was “astounded” by the news.
The inclusion of smokers in phase 1a follows a similar move out of New Jersey, where health officials opened up its coronavirus vaccine distribution to include residents ages 65 and older and those ages 16 and older who have at least one chronic medical condition, which the state also said includes smoking.
Mississippi, too, has prioritized smokers its first coronavirus vaccine distribution phase.
Fox News’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.
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