US federal guidelines recommend that smokers under the age of 65 -- considered high-risk for severe Covid-19 symptoms -- be eligible for the vaccine in early phases of distribution, frustrating essential workers lower in the priority line.
New Jersey and Mississippi are offering the vaccine to smokers under the age of 65. Several other states have included smokers among those next in line, but haven't opened the phase yet, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.
The move to prioritize smokers over essential workers like teachers has received some criticism, though the phased rollout is in line with federal guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control that place smoking on a list of conditions "that cause increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes Covid-19."
The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices advises smokers to be vaccinated in Phase 1C, although states can ultimately use their discretion in how they open eligibility to constituents.
Phase 1C includes people 65-74 years of age, people 16-64 years of age with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers. Phase 1A includes health care workers and long-term care facility residents, and Phase 1B includes people 75 or older and non-health care frontline/essential workers.