Smokers are one of the priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination and will be able to get their shots before the general public, according to a report from USA Today.
Some don’t agree with the guidance and have expressed their frustrations on social media. But health experts say the rationale is clear.
“I could see why people would feel as if that would be unfair but people who are smokers are in general at higher risk for getting sicker when they develop COVID-19,” said Dr. Samuel Kim, a thoracic surgeon at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.
A study, published Jan. 25 in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Internal Medicine, found that people who smoke or who have smoked in the past are more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 than people who haven’t smoked. “The finding that smoking is associated with increased risk of poor outcome from COVID-19 is not surprising,” said study co-author Dr. Joe Zein, a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “Smoking induces structural changes in the respiratory tract and compromises people’s ability to mount appropriate immune and inflammatory responses (against infections).”