More than half of Louisiana’s adult population will soon qualify to receive the coronavirus vaccine after state leaders expanded eligibility to adults who are overweight and obese.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the changes that took effect Tuesday include people with a broad range of chronic health problems that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, including being overweight or obese.

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index, or BMI, of over 30 and is calculated using a person’s body weight relative to their height, while also factoring gender. A person who is overweight has a BMI between 25 and under 30.

For example, a man who is 5 feet 7 inches and weighs around 191 pounds would have a BMI of around 30. A person of the same height who weighs around 160 to 190 pounds would be considered overweight.

This calculator from the CDC can help you understand your BMI.

Louisiana has one of the highest rates of obesity in the county. Roughly 36% of adults in Louisiana are obese, and a similar percentage of adults are overweight, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Being above a normal weight puts elevates the risk of severe COVID-19, medical experts have said. Those people are also at a higher risk of other chronic health conditions linked to worsened outcomes from the disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and kidney problems.

People over 55-years-old who were overweight became eligible for the vaccine last month, and the new guidelines would give access to Louisianans as young as 16 -- in some cases -- access to the shots.

The vaccine made by Pfizer is the only shot approved for people 16 years old and older.

More than 1.6 million people in Louisiana have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest state Department of Health data.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday people age 16 and older with certain health conditions are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine,…

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