Diabetes advocates pleading for state to add Type 1 to vaccination priority list

Local groups fight to change vaccine eligibility list

BOSTON — Researchers and advocates are pleading for the state of Massachusetts to reconsider its classification of Type 1 diabetes on the vaccination priority list.

Massachusetts bases its list of eligible medical conditions off of the CDC’s list.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only lists Type 1 diabetes as a condition that “might” put people at greater risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

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However, the CDC states that Type 2 diabetes patients “are” at increased risk. That’s why Type 2 is included on the state’s list of required comorbidities for vaccine eligibility.

The Boston-based Joslin Diabetes Center points to new research showing that Type 1 diabetics are at similar or potentially even greater risk than those with Type 2.

“The recent data is very clear that people with any type of diabetes will have two or three times increased risk of being hospitalized, intubated in the ICU and increased death,” said Dr. George King, chief scientific officer with Joslin Diabetes Center.

Dr. King is among a list of local and national experts asking the CDC to take this new data into consideration.

In the meantime, Dr. King is hoping Massachusetts will add Type 1 diabetes to its current vaccine eligibility list.

“Multiple other states have already made the correction such as New York, Ohio, Tennessee and California. They are not waiting for the CDC to make the change,” explained Dr. King.

About one in 10 Americans have diabetes. Only about 10 percent of diabetics have Type 1, accounting for approximately 1.6 million people nationwide.

The American Diabetes Association estimates there are about 50,000 Type 1 diabetes patients in Massachusetts.

“This, sort of, we don’t exist response is hard to hear,” said Jessica Von Goeler of Arlington, who has Type 1 diabetes. “It’s frustrating.”

Von Goeler is worried she may have to wait with the general public to get vaccinated.

She started a petition several weeks ago asking the state of Massachusetts to change its classification of Type 1.

It’s received more than 7,000 signatures so far.

“We’re hoping they will just look at the research. I would just look at them firmly in the eyes and smile with firmness and say the science is now clearly on the table,” said Paul Madden of Plymouth, who also has Type 1 diabetes.

Boston 25 News reached out to Governor Baker’s office for comment on this report but have not heard back.