There are two million smokers in New Jersey. As of Wednesday, they are now eligible to get the vaccine along with people over the age of 65, and people who have underlying health conditions.
Health officials have defended the decision, saying their data proves that people who smoke get sicker more quickly from COVID than those who don’t.
It is unclear how they will check whether or not a person is a smoker when they show up to receive the vaccine.
To date, there has not been any widespread study done on how smokers are worse affected by COVID.
In fact, early research indicated that smokers were not adversely affected by COVID – a result that left scientists baffled.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy last week touring a COVID-19 vaccination site in Rockaway. As of Wednesday, smokers get access to the vaccine in NJ
Outside the Morris County vaccination site, in Rockaway, NJ, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tours the opening of the Morris County vaccination site
In a statement defending New Jersey’s decision, the state’s Department of Health Director of Communications Donna Leusner said: ‘Nicotine is one of the most powerful addictions.
‘Smoking put individuals at higher risk for more severe disease. If an individual who smokes gets COVID, they get sicker much quicker.’
‘Smoking puts you at significant risk for an adverse result from COVID-19 and there are 2 million smokers in New Jersey who fit into these categories,’ state Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said on Tuesday as they announced the decision.
Now, 4.75million in New Jersey are eligible to receive the vaccine.
‘The state has only been given 500,000 vaccines. So far, it has administered more than 123,000.
The NJ Department of Health has not shared the data it has on how COVID-19 affects smokers worse than anyone else.
The decision was met with widespread criticism on social media
Health officials have defended the decision, saying their data proves that people who smoke get sicker more quickly from COVID than those who don’t
The CDC has never shared data on how it affects smokers.
The decision to include smokers outraged many who said it isn’t fair that they should be given access to the vaccine before teachers.
‘When will NJ teachers be eligible for the COVID vaccine? We have been pushed back in line, behind 2 million smokers,’ one critic asked after the announcement.
‘So y’all are going to prioritize the smokers who clearly don’t care about their health to begin with to get the vaccine first because they’re now at higher risk after knowingly picking a poor life choice that would make themselves higher risk?
‘Make it make sense,’ another said.
New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti tweeted: ‘My parents in New Jersey are technically eligible today for vaccine, but state is also expanding eligibility today to…heavy smokers.
‘Hope they get in line before the dude who proves his eligibility by showing a receipt for a carton of Winstons.’