D.C.'s Unscientific Vaccination Plan Pits the Elderly Against the Obese

Even as the district struggles to vaccinate seniors, it will soon allow half the city to get in line.


When Washington, D.C., enters its next phase of vaccine distribution in February, all residents who are smokers, have asthma, suffer from high blood pressure, are obese, or possess a wide range of other health conditions will be permitted to get the jab.

The list of included conditions is so vast that a huge portion of the city will be eligible. For instance, the city considers an obese person to be anyone with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher. But as Nate Silver points out, the average U.S. adult male possesses a BMI of around 29. (BMI is a flawed tool for gauging health in any case, as people who are extremely muscular tend to have high BMI scores even though they are not obese.)

There's practically no scientific basis for this plan. While the morbidly obese may be at risk for worse-than-normal COVID-19 health outcomes, people with a basically average BMI do not fall into this category.

"We don't see anything in our data—and this is a very large data set that I'm talking about—I don't see an association below [BMI] 30," Sara Tartof, an epidemiologist with Kaiser Permanente, told The Washington Post. "And for death, we don't see a statistically significant association below 40."

The Post's article is unrelentingly critical of the district's vaccination plans, and for good reason. Like many other municipalities, D.C. has encountered logistical difficulties as it attempts to vaccinate its health care workers and seniors, with long lines, appointments that fill up the second they become available, and technical problems with the city's website. D.C. has not yet vaccinated everyone in the 65+ category, which is by far the most at-risk population. Government officials and health experts all over the country must do a better job ensuring that the elderly receive the vaccine first—because deaths from COVID-19 are overwhelmingly concentrated among the very old.

But D.C.'s new vaccination plan—which is truly unique in all the country, in terms of sheer expansiveness, according to the Post—will ensure that many, many people who are not in the extremely at-risk 65+ category are now able to take up spots in line. This is very bad. If health officials are vaccinating fewer seniors because they are vaccinating people with asthma or slight weight issues, they are not engaged in a rational prioritization of existing vaccine reserves.

The Post article suggests that city officials were unhappy with the racial breakdown of vaccination; D.C. was vaccinating many more wealthy and white senior citizens than poor and black senior citizens. Since the city's minority population is disproportionately obese, the government's thinking is evidently that the new prioritization plan will include more minorities. This is deeply misguided—akin to the CDC's initial, eventually revised guidance that suggested many "essential workers" (an ambiguous category) should be vaccinated ahead of the elderly in order to remedy racial inequities.

In fact, the D.C. plan is much worse, because just about anyone can claim to possess one of the prioritized conditions. The city has confirmed that vaccine providers will not ask for verification of a person's BMI or smoking history.

"With a lot of this, it's the honor system, attestation," Ankoor Shah, a pediatrician directing the city's vaccination program, told the Post. "As a health department, as a city, we have to strike that balance of ensuring the right people are getting in line without creating barriers for them."

There are many, many, many groups claiming they should be covered under "the right people." Kidney doctors and patients have released a statement requesting prioritization. So have people with intellectual disabilities. So have dentists, diabetes patients, and farmworkers. In a strict sense, they're right: Everybody should get the vaccine! It's a miracle prophylactic for a horrible disease that's killed millions of people.

But while supplies are limited, we need to prioritize vaccination for the most at-risk population. The "right people," to use Shah's phrasing, are the elderly. Any plan possessing so many loopholes that most people who are not 65+ could nevertheless find a way to justify vaccine prioritization for themselves is idiotic. It's akin to saying that everyone—barring the exceptionally fit and healthy—should go ahead and get in line or book an appointment right now.

NEXT: New U.K. Visa Scheme Would Allow 5.4 Million People To Escape Hong Kong

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  1. So if I start smoking I can get vaccinated?

    1. Seems like it. Great hobby. Never too late to start.

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    2. Even easier: you just have to CLAIM be a smoker. Honor system. What could possibly go wrong?

      1. Or just "identify" as one.

        1. No doubt they will use the opportunity to lecture you about smoking and refer you to cessation counseling if you identify as a smoker. DC and most cities already get billions from the govt for anti-smoking programs, so it’s an opportunity for them to get even more by linking it to Covid vaccinations. That’s how these people think.

          1. Might even bill you because you are a smoker.

            I have gotten 2 covid tests since this all began. When I showed up to the first one, I said I had symptoms. I was only getting the test because I needed to travel. I was pretty sure it was mild allergies, but I was being honest, as one does with a doctor. I received no bill for the test, but my primary care physician's office called me later that week to cancel my appointment that had been scheduled 2 months previously, citing my covid symptoms as the reason.

            The second test I said I had no symptoms, but needed to travel. I was billed $97 after insurance. Fuckers.

            1. So you commit fraud often. Good to hear. Just like your claims of being ex military and a business owner.

              1. Jesse, we can put all my claims to rest in one fell swoop. All you have to do is top being such an abject pussy.

                1. Haha

      2. Well, that particular bit of medical trivia will go a federal medical data base, and your health insurance rates will go up, you will continually e directed to counseling sessions, and after a few days when the dems pass medicare for all, you may be involuntarily confined until you are "cured".

        1. May not be true but I heard that the Soviet Union mixed animal dung and noxious chemicals with tobacco to discourage smoking. This led to Marlboros being a prized black market item and, some think, led to the ultimate fall of the USSR.

          1. And the USA once doubled the methanol content of wood alcohol and added benzene to make it poisonous because they were worried someone somewhere might be trying to violate Prohibition.

            1. They still add methanol or other denaturants to ethanol to prevent consumption. Most popular is heptane now, which is easily separable by distillation, but the ATF seems to be allowing it for whatever reason. I buy a lot of it as an industrial solvent. The denatured is about $26 cheaper per gallon, all because you get to skip the vice tax.

  2. "The government is overreaching and doing stupid things. The solution? Hmm. I know! The government should do SMART things!"


    Libertarianism, eh?

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    2. If the choice is between stupid and smart, why should a libertarian disagree with anybody else?

    3. ^lol.. THIS - Maybe there shouldn't be another UN-Constitutional D.C. "Plan".

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  3. The WHO Finally Updates COVID-19 Testing After Biden

    Today, within an hour of Joe Biden being inaugurated and signing an executive order mandating masks on all federal property, the WHO sent out a notice to lab professionals using the PCR test. It said:

    WHO guidance Diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2 states that careful interpretation of weak positive results is needed (1). The cycle threshold (Ct) needed to detect virus is inversely proportional to the patient’s viral load. Where test results do not correspond with the clinical presentation, a new specimen should be taken and retested using the same or different NAT technology.

    The WHO went on, stating:

    Most PCR assays are indicated as an aid for diagnosis, therefore, health care providers must consider any result in combination with timing of sampling, specimen type, assay specifics, clinical observations, patient history, confirmed status of any contacts, and epidemiological information.

    In short, a positive PCR test in the absence of symptoms means nothing at a Ct of higher than 30, according to the experts interviewed by the New York Times and according to Jaafar et al. Yet positive tests is the number CNN loves flashing on the screen.

    If the percentage found by the Times in August holds, there have been approximately 2.43 million actual cases to date, not 24.3 million. There is also no way to calculate the deaths from COVID-19 rather than deaths with some dead viral debris in the nostrils.
    What I have referred to as the “casedemic” since September will be magically solved just in time for Joe Biden to look like a hero.

    1. Obama admin shut down H1N1 testing, complicating Biden's attacks on Trump's coronavirus screening

      However, during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, the Obama administration suddenly told states to shut down their testing, without providing much in the way of explanation. And, Biden's top advisor at the time has acknowledged that the Obama administration didn't do "anything right" to combat that pandemic, before walking back those comments.

      1. Shades of the NYT article about overestimating the 'ro.

        Swine Flu Cases Overestimated?

        If you've been diagnosed "probable" or "presumed" 2009 H1N1 or "swine flu" in recent months, you may be surprised to know this: odds are you didn't have H1N1 flu.

        In fact, you probably didn't have flu at all. That's according to state-by-state test results obtained in a three-month-long CBS News investigation.


    2. Stupid, the PCR tests ain't mean nothing because it's a hoax. Listen to you with all your fancy learning and big words trying to brainwash people into thinking you can test for the fake China Flu.

      Socialists like you are ruining this country with your fake virus, while you blabber about what the fake news New York Times is saying like you're not a sheep BAAAAA

    3. "WHO guidance Diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2 states that careful interpretation of weak positive results is needed (1). The cycle threshold (Ct) needed to detect virus is inversely proportional to the patient’s viral load. Where test results do not correspond with the clinical presentation, a new specimen should be taken and retested using the same or different NAT technology."

      This references a document from September. It's not new guidance.

      1. This is from the College of American Pathologists.

        “Analytic performance of many SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic PCR tests approaches 100% at 500-5000 copies/mL; however, clinical performance of testing depends on biology and pre-analytic factors and only approaches 80% sensitivity and 98-99% specificity. Learning more about the biology of SARS-CoV-2 and optimizing pre-analytic factors should improve the clinical performance of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing. If COVID-19 is suspected and testing is negative, re-testing of a clinically affected site may be indicated.”

        So when used clinically near 100% of people testing positive have the virus. The lower number 80% reflects the number of people who actually have it but come up negative.

    4. Within hours of Joe Biden being inaugurated and signing an executive order mandating masks on all federal property, he and his family went to the Lincoln Memorial sans masks.

      White House press secretary Jen Psaki seemed to have trouble explaining why President Biden and some members of the first family were briefly unmasked while at the Lincoln Memorial for inauguration night events.

      "I think he was celebrating in the evening of a historic day in our country," she told reporters in the briefing room Thursday. "We take a number of COVID precautions, as you know, here, in terms of testing, social distancing, mask-wearing ourselves."

      "I think we have bigger issues to worry about at this time," she said.

      Biden gave his mask to first lady Jill Biden Wednesday night while he recorded his remarks for the television program taped in lieu of inaugural balls canceled because of the coronavirus. Members of his family, including his older granddaughters, took off their face coverings for photos at the memorial.

      Psaki, though, was more direct when asked whether the Biden administration would take more care not to blur the lines between campaigning and governing. The press secretary, also a federal employee, conducted her first two WH press briefings without a mask.

  4. Our plan shouldn't be scientific.

    Markets bring down costs and make things more widely available than can happen with experts and planning--yes, a bunch of idiots working together in markets can make better choices both for themselves and the group as a whole.

    Qualitative preferences have no authoritative basis--unless we're talking about connoisseurship, which isn't the case here. Market forces would distribute these vaccines in the least expensive way, the most equitable way, and the fastest.

    I don't care if we're talking about Hollywood studios being willing to pay a fortune to get he vaccine for their production staff so they can start filming again or getting the vaccine to elderly people on fixed incomes living in a nursing home. Markets only require people to want something and the freedom to serve their markets to work better than anything else.

    If we couldn't distribute smart phones without the input of scientific experts and their concern for equity, most every poor kid in the American underclass wouldn't have one.

    1. Hear, hear!

      Let's suppose that the distribution of the vaccine had been left entirely up to the manufacturers, who'd be free to sell it at market-clearing prices. I suspect that more than a million people would be willing to cough up more than a grand apiece to get it in the first few weeks of its availability. Most of that would represent profit to the manufacturers, who'd thus be provided both with the funds and the incentive for a massive expansion of the production and distribution system, in order to capture as much as possible of those early profits before the market price came down. That expanded system would remain in place even as the price fell, greatly increasing the rate at which the rest of us got our doses.

    2. The people running the show don't believe in markets.

      1. Then the story, here, is to disabuse the people running the show of their stupidity.

  5. at this point I just don't care just stick everyone so there are no more excuses and we can go back to living our lives.

    1. "Have you or a loved received the COVID-19 vaccine? If so, please call Weitz & Luxenberg today."

      If you're comfortable with the prospect of making that phone call in ten to twenty years, go right ahead.

      1. It'll give a whole new meaning to "qualified immunity".

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  6. I have been waiting for years for the Running Man gameshow to appear. Winner gets vaccinated?

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  7. Are they vaccinating people that already had COVID? The first person I personally know that got vaccine was also the first person I personally know that tested positive.

    1. Yes I know two people who had covid that got vaccinated already.

    2. They need to do this to disabuse people of the notion that this could have been taken care of via herd immunity. That's why they've been saying that they don't know if infection leads to immunity down the road, as it does with every other coronavirus out there.

      1. I’m totally fine with them vaccinating people who want it as long as they leave the rest of us alone. If some fool who had the disease wants to also be vaccinated, and becausebof this magical vaccine they now are comfortable allowing high schoolers to attend class without a mask, I’m all for it. Of course, this all could have been avoided if they had not been hysterical in the first place...

    3. I've heard some people recommend waiting at least 3 months after you recover from an infection to get the vaccine, but that's not an actual requirement anywhere, they don't even ask.

      There's just too much not known about long term natural immunity. Your body could have created only a weak response, could have decided on less than optimal antibodies, might have beaten it with other immune responses before antibodies even developed. We still don't know how long natural immunity lasts even with a robust immune response, or just how common reinfection is, whether natural immunity will be as good as the vaccine at covering the emerging variants, and so on. Between all that and the logistical barriers to trying to enforce it, there's just no justification to not just go ahead and give it to people who've had it.

      I recovered in late November and will wait until March even though I could qualify by preexisting conditions and essential work, just to prioritize someone who's never had it. For myself I figure the 3 months there's active antibodies before those wane, leaving just the immune memory cells that would need to reactivate a response, is a good time table.

      1. Anti bodies for most viruses, including all of the common respiratory viruses...ALWAYS GO AWAY after some period measured in months. They NEVER hang around in the blood system forever. The immune system has other ways of maintaining memory of past infections - B & T cells for instance.

        This is something that the media and the public health sector types do not make clear to the public. They scream that the antibodies will fade as if it is something unique to C19.

  8. The Post article suggests that city officials were unhappy with the racial breakdown of vaccination; D.C. was vaccinating many more wealthy and white senior citizens than poor and black senior citizens.

    So, the article suggests that city officials were unhappy with *themselves* for being classist and racist?

  9. Joe Biden got 5 million followers in less than 24 hours after the @POTUS account was purged of everyone who followed it under Trump
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  10. What if you are a black gay transgender obese diabedic political activist? Does that mean your the first in the line?

    1. There must be at least 1000 of the type you describe in DC. There would be a lot of bitch slapping to be first in line.

    2. Is that you Stacey Abrams?

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  12. "Pits the Elderly Against the Obese" My money is on the fat people, some of them have mad strength. pulling your 400lb ass out of bed takes muscle. They'll sweep the elderly aside like there's an all you can eat buffet at the end of the line!

    1. Who's making book on this fight? Inquiring minds want to know.

    2. And DC bans carrying equalizers.

  13. Surely there is a case to be made that the elderly interact with fewer people, and the first in line should be those whose jobs (remember them?) put them in contact with strangers all day long.
    Or any other damn fool idea for rationing the vaccine.
    Just pick one that fits your level of fascism and stick with it.

  14. Covid-19: Scientists challenge 'flawed' lateral flow tests report
    By Philippa Roxby
    Health reporter
    21 January 2021

    The scientists go on to explain that the report confused the role of PCR tests and lateral flow devices.

    PCR tests, which the NHS uses to test people with symptoms and are sent off to a lab for the results, can detect dead virus as well as viable virus.

    That means people can test positive for many days after symptoms appear and for weeks after they are capable of passing the virus on to others.

    As a result, only a subset of people testing positive with PCR tests are actively infectious.

    ...Neither PCR or lateral flow is a perfect test, but "treating PCR as a gold standard of infectiousness" is a mistake, they say.

  15. Just let the drug companies sell and distribute the vaccine. Free individuals can judge their risk for themselves and whether to buy a dose (or two) or not. Anyone concerned about those unable to afford a vaccination could buy up doses and distribute them via private charity.

    A market solution is not cold hearted if it works better.

    1. "But markets are coldhearted, so we must appeal to government!"

      This sort of assumes government is not also coldhearted. Where did this bizarre idea come from?

      To paraphrase Bill Cosby, "But what if your government is an asshole?"

      1. Gov-God Saviors "assholes"? Never!..... 🙂 /s

    2. If the gov wants to influence priorities then they should issue vouchers for the vaccine.

  16. Solution: Stop it with the one-size-fits-all centralized government plan. Gosh, you would think Trump was still in office or something. Big Man in Charge is not the answer.

    Let healthcare providers, both public and private, buy the vaccines directly. Let them make the decisions, not the Big Man politicians. Heretical in the modern age of ubiquitous fascism/socialism, I know. But dammit, Trump is out of office so we can stop pretending that only Trump has all the answers.

    1. Only SleepyJoe has all the answers.

    2. You mean the Trump Administration that tried to repeal Obamacare? Seriously; Where does all this Trump the cult, king, dictator hatred come from..... Trump had a whole committee JUST on de-regulating..

      It must come from sheeple minds of a lefty-narrated media; be my guess.

  17. Sweet. Folks who can't take personal responsibility get vaccinated while still spouting moral superiority over those who choose not to wear masks to assuage their fears over getting said virus and weathering its affect.

    1. Fat is the new healthy! The new beautiful! The new cool thing to be...all we need to do is accept this and it will become so.

      And, all those little annoying things like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, etc., will REALLY start making our Healthcare Industrial Complex some coin...

    2. Those who choose not to wear masks are endangering themselves, not to mention tons of other people: i. e. their friends, neighbors, families, roommates, etc.

  18. shouldn't we be blaming Biden and not DC personally since every Covid complaint prior to yesterday was always trumps fault.

    1. Still Trump's fault.
      Joe will never do anything wrong.

    2. Yes. SleepyJoe says 100,000 will die next month. And he is going to see to it.

      1. Actually...240,000 will die next month, or 8,000 a day, which is exactly in line with the ten-year average... many will be badged as "covid" because of a positive PCR test that had to cycle somewhere north of 35 times to root out that little viral shard?

        That's the $64,000 question...

    3. No, we should not be blaming Joe Biden. Donald Trump deliberately did nothing and lied to the American people about Covid-19 being a hoax, that it was totally under control, when it wasn't, and that's why the United States, as a whole is in this mess. Donald Trump refused to do anything to bring Covid-19 under control and prevent it from becoming a pandemic back in December of 2019, and January & February of 2020, when there was still a chance to contain the Covid-19 virus and control it. He screwed all of us as a society, and a lot of those college students, although they purport to have despised Donald Trump, sure as hell acted like him.

      1. Infection Fatality Rate is 0.2%. Under 65 is 0.05%.

        55% of covid deaths are in nursing homes, where the average time in such a facility before death is 12 months.

        We should have reopened in mid April.

        Don't be a cannot stop a virus. And, once it is detected in the population, it is among us, and will follow the Gumperts Curve as all viruses have done, and always will. To think we can somehow stop it is silly partisan bullshit...and what is sad is that you, and so many people, believe the political, divisive rhetoric and believe this bullshit because "Orange Man Bad".

        Look at every other nation on earth...where curves have followed the exact same Gumperts Curve regardless of mandates, lockdowns, etc.

        How many college student-aged people have died from covid? It is about 1/20th the amount of those who have died from all other causes this year.

        How many people under 15 have died? 105. Meanwhile, 24,000 people under the age of 15 have died from other causes (CDC data...not mine).

        This is the biggest, most overblown event the world has seen since what kicked off WWI.

  19. It was my understanding that smokers are not disproportionally impacted by The Coof. It is also my understanding that this fact caused many potted plants to be smashed against many walls at the CDC HQ.

    1. ^THIS.... lol.... 🙂 to a T...

  20. It seems the obese have a great deal of political weight in D. C.

  21. The public health department of my northern California county is firmly in the Critical Theory camp, and are holding 65+ vaccinations back to mid February. If then.

    They've ignored the state guidance to begin vaccinating those over 65 starting last week (the 13th of January is when the order went out).

  22. DC? You mean Joe's plan.

  23. Pits the Elderly Against the Obese

    Can we get that on pay-per-view?

  24. ...the city considers an obese person to be anyone with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher.


    Look, you want to play around with the poverty line or CBO numbers to make things look better or worse for your personal gain, that's fine. But no one messes with the BMI. That's science. (My BMI is currently at 19.3, btw, which is in the NORMAL.) Obese is 30 or above.

    1. 70% of Americans are 25 BMI or over...and closer to 80% of Adult Americans are.

  25. “ people who are extremely muscular tend to have high BMI scores even though they are not obese.”

    I always love this argument. As if athletes are routinely confused with obese people.

    1. They do mess up correlations with health issues.

    2. "As if athletes are routinely confused with obese people." They are confused all the time by public health people and other bureaucrats. When I was a SSGT in the Air Force, I'd regularly get letters warning that one of my men's BMI was too high - not the 6'2" guy that looked like a blimp with legs and arms, but the 5'8" weightlifter with no fat whatsoever.

  26. People do not yearn to be free, so much as they yearn to be taken care of.

    Jesus Christ I am surrounded by adult children who eat too much, sit too much, buy to much, and work too little.

  27. Government officials and health experts all over the country must do a better job ensuring that the elderly receive the vaccine first—because deaths from COVID-19 are overwhelmingly concentrated among the very old.

    Because - well why. Seems like this has almost become an article of faith. Indonesia is targeting vaccinations towards 18-59 No idea which will actually work. Or maybe different things for different folks.

    But the US is the one place on Earth where ideas about what needs doing are hardly credible.

  28. STOP trying to push your way to the front of the GOV Bread Lines!!!!

  29. The plan is bases on racism not science. That will be the status quo for most policies with democrat in charge. They lost ground with minorities to Trump and this is the response.

  30. Since deaths have driven policy and fueled the panic, then any strategy that does not seek to minimize deaths is fraudulent. We know unequivocally that deaths are overwhelming in the above 70 age demographic. It seems to me that there are two possible, viable strategies. First, seek to directly reduce the number of the elderly that get the disease by vaccinating them. Second, achieve herd immunity as quickly as possible which would mean concentrating efforts to convince the 18-50 crowd in getting the vaccine.

    1. We focus too much on the death statistics. Sure not every covid patient is gonna die but this thing can kick your ass in other ways.

      Yes the strategy is focus on those with highest risk or exposure. Then everyone else. As usual they are mucking around too much with the details. Get needles in arms and do it quickly.

  31. Yes, let’s essentially subsidize and encourage bad behavior. You can’t avoid being old but you can certainly avoid being fat.

    1. The second sentence of your post cuts to the quick, Jeff Mason! Your point is well taken! Bravo--and thanks,.

    2. So we should stop providing health care to fat people? It would save a lot of money as would letting the old people die off.

    3. Well, to be fair, there are ways to avoid being old.

  32. Yes, let’s essentially subsidize and encourage bad behavior. You can’t avoid being old but you can certainly avoid being fat.

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  33. Is there still time for me to gain 40 pounds so I can get the shot faster? sure is hard to type with powdered sugar and frosting all over my hands...


    1. Are you planning to get it?

      I think these plans are just ridiculous. As I said elsewhere the country with the most successful program just has 3 categories. 1-everyone over 60, healthcare workers, teachers, people with prexisting conditions 2- everyone over 40 3- everyone over 16.

      They have already hit over 78% in category 1 and are starting in on 2. They expect everyone to be vaccinated by the end of April.

      That’s how you do it.

  34. The basic precautions are all just extensions of what your mother knew when colds and flues came around.

    “Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough” masks are just an extension of that.

    “Wash your hands when you get in the house” that is obvious. Now we have those nifty little bottles of hand sanitizer to make it easy.

    “No you can’t go to Jimmies to play today. His mother called and said he was sick” social distancing is just an extension of that rule. We don’t know who has it so they are all presumed to be Jimmie.

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