Severely obese people will be given a coronavirus vaccine before healthy over 60s because they are considered more at risk, official guidance has confirmed.
People with Body Mass Indexes (BMI) of more than 60 and aged between 18 and 65 will be prioritised for the vaccine, according to official instructions.
Experts say obesity is a top risk factor for a severe illness with deadly Covid-19, with the severely overweight twice as likely to die.
The Public Health England (PHE) guidance rolled out this week placed the morbidly obese above older adults in the queue.
The booklet outlines which groups are considered ‘at-risk’ adults who should be prioritised ahead of healthy over-60s.
The UK has ordered millions of doses of several promising candidates, including the Oxford AstraZeneca shot, and Pfizer’s jab.
NHS and care home workers will be first in the queue to enable them to continue to do their jobs on the pandemic frontlines.
PHE’s guidance confirmed the recommendations made earlier by the the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on who else should be top of the queue.
The vaccine priority queue ranked:
1. Residents and staff in a care home for older adults
2. All those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers
3. All those 75 years of age and over
4. All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (not including pregnant women and those under 18 years of age)
5. All those 65 years of age and over
6. Adults aged 18 to 65 years in an at-risk group *
7. All those 60 years of age and over
8. All those 55 years of age and over
9. All those 50 years of age and over
At risk groups listed in full
(These are unranked. You can find a full breakdown here to see if you fit into any of these categories.)
Chronic respiratory disease
Chronic heart disease and vascular disease
Chronic kidney disease
Chronic liver disease
Chronic neurological disease
Asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen
Severe mental illness
Adult household members, close contacts and carers of immunocompromised adults (i.e. individuals who expect to share living accommodation on most days, or those providing regular care, where continuing close contact is unavoidable).
Younger adults in long-stay nursing and residential care settings.
The JCVI’s chair Professor Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 said: “The JCVI’s interim advice on COVID-19 vaccine prioritisation was developed with the aim of preventing as many deaths as possible.
“The evidence shows that at-risk groups – including people with a BMI of over 40 – have an overall higher risk of death from COVID-19 than those without underlying health conditions.”