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Covid vaccination priority to smokers frustrate essential workers in US: Report

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The CDC guidelines say that adults of any age with smoking habit are at increased risk for severe Covid–associated illness.

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav

PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 08:51 PM IST

As federal and state agencies of the United States are scrambling to increase the pace of vaccine rollout, immunisation eligibility for smokers under the age of 65 is reportedly frustrating essential workers placed lower in the priority line. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, New Jersey and Mississippi are offering the vaccine to smokers under the age of 65 to provide immunity against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which has claimed more than 392,000 lives in the United States.

Earlier this week, Mississippi governor Tate Reeves announced an expansion of the vaccine rollout for people under 65 years of age with high-risk medical conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines say that adults of any age with smoking habit are at increased risk for severe Covid-19 associated illness and are placed in Phase 1c population groups, ahead of those essential workers not included in Phase 1b. Tate told a news conference that essential workers like teachers are next in line for the vaccination.

“And just be very clear to our emergency first responders, to our police officers, to our firefighters, and to our teachers, you’re on deck. The next time we have an update, I expect it will be to announce that the vaccine will become available to you,” the Mississippi governor said.

While the phased rollout of vaccines in the two US states is in line with the federal guidelines published by the CDC, the decision to prioritise smokers over essential workers like teachers has drawn criticism. According to a CNN report, Bergen County Education Association president Sue McBride said that educators in New Jersey frustrated that they have been pushed back in the priority line.

“From what I am hearing, it’s just another round of frustration and another round of difficulty, you know, our educators and our education support professionals have working contact with the students and with their colleagues in their school buildings,” McBride was quoted as saying by the US media outlet.

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