CDC: 75% Of Americans Have High-Risk Factors For Severe COVID-19 Infections, Making Vaccine Prioritization Difficult

People with certain pre-existing conditions, in addition to those over 65, fall into Pennsylvania's 1A COVID vaccination group who can all currently get vaccinations in Pennsylvania; KDKA's Dr. Maria Simbra reports.

Video Transcript

- People with certain pre-existing conditions, in addition to those over 65, fall into Pennsylvania's 1A COVID vaccination group, who can all currently get vaccinations in Pennsylvania.

- And as Dr. Maria Simbra reports, patients with heart issues really need to consider getting vaccinated.

MARIA SIMBRA: Three out of four Americans have a risk factor for severe COVID-19. Because of asthma, Mike Chiappinelli wanted to get immunized.

MIKE CHIAPPINELLI: If you have pre-existing conditions, it's definitely important to get vaccinated.

MARIA SIMBRA: A heart condition had Madysen Stauffer concerned.

MADYSEN STAUFFER: I was worried, because I knew what happens when you get it, especially with my case. I didn't know where I stood on the totem pole at first, because of my age. I asked, and I had appointments. They're like, yeah, try to get it as fast as you can.

MARIA SIMBRA: By CDC guidelines, as many as 75% of American adults has a risk factor such as obesity, cancer, smoking, lung or kidney disease, or pregnancy, among others.

AMY CRAWFORD-FAUCHER: The folks with cancer, older age, heart disease-- you know, if you have that combination, then it's a very scary thing when they get COVID.

MARIA SIMBRA: A study in the journal "Preventive Cardiology" points to an especially high risk in people with heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

AMY CRAWFORD-FAUCHER: If your heart and its associated vessels are not healthy, that just puts you at higher risk of not being able to tolerate the inflammation that can come along with a COVID infection.

MARIA SIMBRA: The risk is also high for people with low income and low education.

AMY CRAWFORD-FAUCHER: Because of overall poorer health status for a whole variety of reasons, tend to get these diseases at younger ages.

MARIA SIMBRA: With so many people at risk, this could make vaccine prioritization hard.

AMY CRAWFORD-FAUCHER: It's been very challenging. Some states are picking different priorities than others. And I think it's partly how you parse that data.

MARIA SIMBRA: At her vaccine clinics, there is a system.

AMY CRAWFORD-FAUCHER: If you had two or more of these risk factors, we prioritize reaching out to those patients first.

MARIA SIMBRA: Mike has less anxiety after getting his vaccine and wishes more people with risk factors could too.

MIKE CHIAPPINELLI: A lot of friends and family fall under that list.

MARIA SIMBRA: He would like to see the vaccine roll out for everyone. I'm Dr. Maria Simbra, KDKA News.