Obesity Lands in SC Phase 1b High-Risk Category

On March 8 2021, South Carolina’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan advanced to Phase 1b. One of the qualifying criteria for those eligible to receive the vaccine during this phase is, “People with increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease”. This includes people with high-risk medical conditions ranging from cancer to Down syndrome to pregnancy. An obesity diagnosis is also one of the high-risk medical conditions listed as an eligible factor to receive the vaccine. To understand whether you qualify as someone with obesity, you need to know your Body Mass Index (BMI), as well as how to calculate it.

So what is BMI and how do you calculate it?

BMI is the acronym for Body Mass Index. It is a long-standing screening method to determine whether someone is a healthy weight. Knowing your BMI is important and there are three relatively simple methods one can use to determine this:

  1. Use an automated calculator to determine your BMI, such as this: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html
  2. To calculate BMI using a calculator, divide weight in pounds (lbs) by height in inches (in) squared and then multiply by a conversion factor of 703. For example,  weight (lb) / [height (in)]² x 703
  3. To calculate without a square function on your calculator, divide weight by height twice and then multiply by 703. For example, calculate as follows: [weight (lb)/ height (in)/ height (in)] x 703

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines any adult with a BMI exceeding 30 to be obese. In South Carolina, approximately 35% of South Carolinians are eligible for the vaccine based on BMI exceeding 30kg/m².

It has become increasingly obvious throughout the last year of this pandemic that each individual has a very different physical response to contracting COVID-19. Based on a diagnosis of obesity, the risk of contracting the virus and showing very ill-inducing symptoms is high. Click here for more information on the risk of COVID-19 for those with an obesity diagnosis.

Let’s come together as a community and do what we can to limit the further spread of COVID-19 and improve the health outcomes for those who do contract the virus.

Wear a mask, keep your distance from others, and get vaccinated.