Smokers will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine ahead of general public in South Carolina – WYFF4 Greenville

Thousands of vaccines have already been administered in South Carolina and appointments are booked for months for those still waiting.As it stands right now, those with “underlying health conditions” are eligible to get a vaccine in Phase 1C in South Carolina. Some of those include Chronic Kidney Disease, heart conditions and cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is also on the list.“I understand smokers are at higher risk,” Eva Mueller, who’s been smoking for 15 years, said. “With me being a smoker, I fully understand that. But I think kids, elderly, first responders – they all should be first.”While Mueller is ready to get the vaccine, she doesn’t necessarily think smokers should be given preferential treatment.“Honestly, I think they should be with the regular population,” Mueller said.According to doctors, there is a science behind smoking being considered an underlying health condition and them being eligible for the vaccine before the general public. Doctors say smokers have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and they’re at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, requiring admission to the ICU and being placed on a ventilator.“From a resource utilization standpoint, these patients are very sick for long periods of time. They’re in the hospital for a long period of time,” Dr. Patrick Looser, an interventional cardiologist at LowCountry Cardiology, said. “If we can vaccinate them and prevent these severe cases of illnesses, we can free up hospital resources and staff to treat other patients.”But Looser sees the arguments on both sides.“I think it’s a very complex, ethical question to answer,” Looser said. “I don’t think there’s a right answer. Certainly, some people can make the argument smoking is a choice. They’ve chosen to do this to themselves. And so they should not be prioritized. And I totally understand that argument. I think, from my perspective, and what we’re seeing in the hospital, it would make sense to prevent these severe cases of infection first and vaccinate the highest risk group first.”Overall Looser says he agrees with the guidelines that put smokers above the general population because of them being at a higher risk for infection.

Thousands of vaccines have already been administered in South Carolina and appointments are booked for months for those still waiting.

As it stands right now, those with “underlying health conditions” are eligible to get a vaccine in Phase 1C in South Carolina. Some of those include Chronic Kidney Disease, heart conditions and cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is also on the list.

“I understand smokers are at higher risk,” Eva Mueller, who’s been smoking for 15 years, said. “With me being a smoker, I fully understand that. But I think kids, elderly, first responders – they all should be first.”

While Mueller is ready to get the vaccine, she doesn’t necessarily think smokers should be given preferential treatment.

“Honestly, I think they should be with the regular population,” Mueller said.

According to doctors, there is a science behind smoking being considered an underlying health condition and them being eligible for the vaccine before the general public. Doctors say smokers have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and they’re at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, requiring admission to the ICU and being placed on a ventilator.

“From a resource utilization standpoint, these patients are very sick for long periods of time. They’re in the hospital for a long period of time,” Dr. Patrick Looser, an interventional cardiologist at LowCountry Cardiology, said. “If we can vaccinate them and prevent these severe cases of illnesses, we can free up hospital resources and staff to treat other patients.”

But Looser sees the arguments on both sides.

“I think it’s a very complex, ethical question to answer,” Looser said. “I don’t think there’s a right answer. Certainly, some people can make the argument smoking is a choice. They’ve chosen to do this to themselves. And so they should not be prioritized. And I totally understand that argument. I think, from my perspective, and what we’re seeing in the hospital, it would make sense to prevent these severe cases of infection first and vaccinate the highest risk group first.”

Overall Looser says he agrees with the guidelines that put smokers above the general population because of them being at a higher risk for infection.