San Diego

Those Few Extra Pounds May Make You Eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine in San Diego County

San Diego's definition of overweight when it comes to eligibility for the COVID-19 is far lower than compared to the state of California and other places in the country

NBC Universal, Inc.

California on Monday opened the coronavirus vaccine to those with high-risk medical conditions, including those who are overweight. But San Diego County's definition of overweight is far looser than the state's, casting a wider net for eligible San Diegans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who are overweight have an increased risk when it comes to COVID-19 and that those groups should be prioritized when it comes to the coronavirus vaccine.

That's why California on Monday opened up vaccine eligibility to those with severe obesity: those with a BMI of 40 kg/m2 or higher. In San Diego, though, that threshold is much lower at 25 kg/m2.

San Diego County officials and Kaiser Permanente family physician Heidi Meyer says you don't need a doctor's note to prove it.

"Now we are just relying on the honesty and the integrity of San Diegans to take a look at the list on the website which probably includes over 50 percent of everyone," Meyer said.

According to the CDC, a BMI of 25 and over is considered overweight, 30 and over is considered obese. A BMI over 40, morbidly obese. Some critics say BMI is unreliable and is not a diagnostic of the person's body fat or health.

When people read the new County guidelines regarding BMI, social media comments exploded.

Meyer said the numbers are subjective.

"Is it worse if you have a BMI over 40? Yes. So the CDC cutoff is 40, that is a smaller percentage of us," Meyer said. Meyer said. "I think that the counties are probably picking their cutoffs based on how confident they are that they can get shots in arms. Our County knows exactly how many San Diegans are in the category on that list."

She says those that are critical of the County's decision to lower the threshold shouldn't be. Plus, it sheds light on an important health crisis.

"I think it's with the best of intentions and if that speeds up our vaccination rate and it gets people thinking about whether or not to lose weight, I am all for it," Meter said.

Three out of four Americans are considered overweight or obese, Meyer said.

To calculate your BMI, you can go to the CDC's website here.

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