As COVID-19 vaccines continue to develop and be administered to more people, you might be asking, “How will the vaccine work for me as a person living with obesity?”

What We Know

Science and hard work have come a long way in the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, new vaccines are available to protect individuals and the public from contracting COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill. Studies show that all vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19. Each vaccine also has equal effectiveness in people with obesity versus those without obesity, despite early speculations that the vaccines would be less effective in higher-weight individuals.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that “Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. This monitoring includes using both established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe. These vaccines cannot give you COVID-19.”

Vaccine Prioritization

COVID-19 vaccines are currently being administered across the U.S. Although the vaccine supply is currently limited, the federal government is working toward making vaccines widely available to everyone at no cost. However, at the present moment, people with obesity are in many instances being prioritized for the vaccine because obesity increases the risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19 or developing more severe complications. This means that you may be currently eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine if you have obesity, and especially if you have underlying obesity-related medical conditions. To be certain as to whether you are currently eligible and able to get a COVID-19 vaccination, talk to your healthcare provider and contact a vaccine provider near you. Many states also have a simple online tool to help you determine whether you are currently eligible to get vaccinated.

COVID-19 Vaccines and Weight Stigma

Although millions of Americans now qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine based on their BMI, this is a difficult moment for many people living with obesity. Since the vaccine rollout, there has been some criticism about BMI-based vaccine eligibility because obesity is often not recognized by the public as a disease. However, this is another example of weight stigma. For a long time, people with obesity have been shamed and judged for their weight by doctors, friends, family, and the public.

Having obesity should not disqualify someone from getting the care for their health that they need. Individuals with obesity who are eligible for the vaccine, and are either considering or seeking it, should feel empowered to accept the vaccine if it is recommended to them by their healthcare provider. Obesity is just like any other chronic disease that might put a person more at risk for a more severe case of COVID-19. It’s not a matter of choice; it’s a matter of health.

More COVID-19 Vaccine Resources

Want to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines? Click here for a list of resources from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This list features key things about the vaccine you should know, FAQs, myths & facts, what to expect at your vaccine appointment, safety and efficacy information, and more.