The Genius and the Crowd

Limited Booster Approval? Not Exactly

Prevalence of BMI Over 25Limited approval . . . heated debate . . . setback for booster plans. The pathway to rolling out booster shots has been torturous, for sure. But let’s be clear. As the dust clears, the approval of booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is hardly limited. Everyone over 65 can get it. Under 65, the reasons that qualify a person to get it are pretty broad. Right off the top, roughly three fourths of the population qualifies because of a BMI over 25.

If that doesn’t do it, a long list of other medical conditions offers more ways to qualify. Finally, work and institutional settings can also qualify a person. The question here is pretty simple. Do you work or live in a situation that exposes you to a lot of people in close quarters? If yes, you likely qualify.

Overweight and Obesity

The risk of bad outcomes with COVID-19 rises with BMI. CDC has both overweight (BMI>25) and obesity (BMI>30) on the list of medical conditions that put people at risk and qualify them for a booster shot. Yes, BMI doesn’t precisely define a medical diagnosis of obesity. But it’s close enough for government work, as they say.

BMI and Risk of Death Due to COVID-19Because the risk of death with COVID doesn’t go up until a person passes the benchmark of a BMI over 30, some people will debate the risk that a BMI between 25 and 30 presents. But careful research shows that the risk for severe disease is lowest at a BMI of 23 and rises in a linear fashion. So yes, even a BMI over 25 is a reason for extra caution.

Conflict and Confusion

Algorithms and headlines favor conflict. It makes people look. But it also stirs confusion.

So let’s step away from the sensationalism. The facts are not all that confusing about the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine booster – its approval is not very limited. Most of the people who got their first two shots with that vaccine now qualify for a booster. If you qualify and you’re over 50, CDC says you should get it. If you’re between 18 and 50, they say you may (at your option) get it.

Decisions on boosters for the Moderna or J&J vaccine may be coming soon. But for now, folks who got their original doses with those vaccines will have to wait. Hurry up and wait.

Click here for more on who qualifies for a Pfizer booster and here for more about the rollout.

The Genius and the Crowd, painting by Yeghishe Tadevosyan / WikiArt

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September 25, 2021