A bit overweight? You qualify for vaccine

by Ian Johanson
for The Beacon

Starting Monday March 22nd, the next group of people who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine are “individuals with certain medical conditions.” Many of these medical conditions are quite serious, such as liver disease or coronary artery disease. However there’s a simple “medical condition” on the list that qualifies at least 67% of all adult Wisconsinites: being “overweight.”

By “overweight” the state means having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25-29 kg/m2. For a person 5 feet 4 inches tall (the average height of a US woman), that starts at just 146 lbs. For a 5 foot 9 inch tall person (average male height), weighing just 169 lbs. means you’re officially “overweight” by this definition.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, just 32% of adult Wisconsinites have a “normal” BMI of 18-25. 35% are “overweight,” while 32% are “obese.”  Obesity (BMI of 30-39) and severe obesity (BMI of 40+) also make individuals eligible for the vaccine.

Many other extremely common medical conditions qualify for vaccination, including diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, even pregnancy. The complete list is printed below.

Use the chart above to locate your approximate BMI, or use a BMI calculator which is found in many places online.

Eligibility starting March 22 includes individuals 16 and older with the following conditions:

Asthma (moderate-to-severe)


Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)

Chronic kidney disease

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

Cystic fibrosis

Diabetes mellitus type 1 or 2

Down syndrome

Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease,     or cardiomyopathies

Hypertension or high blood pressure

Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines

Liver disease

Neurologic conditions, such as intellectual disabilities and dementia

Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30-39 kg/m2)

Overweight (BMI of 25-29 kg/m2)


Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)

Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2 or more)

Sickle cell disease

Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)

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