Proponents urge Governor Charlie Baker to add type 1 diabetes to the list of diseases eligible for vaccination priority in Massachusetts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated their guidelines to include them, but Baker has yet to say whether the Commonwealth will follow suit.
Jessica von Goeler was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes more than 40 years ago. During the pandemic, the Arlington mother lives in constant fear, knowing that if she were to contract the coronavirus, she could face serious complications.
“It is painful the longer this takes, because it’s like ‘How much longer can I avoid it?’ There are new variations. There are this and that, and it’s getting more and more frightening every day, “said von Goeler.
After hearing that only type 2 diabetes was added to the list of qualifying diseases for vaccination priority, Goeler launched a petition to get the state to reconsider. It has almost 14,000 signatures.
Currently, people with type I diabetes do not have a priority for COVID vaccines, while people with type II diabetes do.
“All diabetes organizations have published new studies that say type 1 is a risk and nobody has listened,” said von Goeler.
You and others were delighted to hear that this week the CDC changed its guidelines and added Type 1 to the list.
“I think I did a party dance in my little home office,” she said. “It’s like I’ve finally been recognized.”
Massachusetts has not yet updated its list, however. Baker will only say that his office is considering the new guidelines.
Dr. Lori Laffel of the Joslin Diabetes Center said the science is now clear.
“People with diabetes are three to four times more likely to develop serious illnesses, hospitalizations and even mortality than people without diabetes,” Laffel said.
Dr. David Harlan, co-director of the Diabetes Center of Excellence at UMass Memorial Medical Center, said he understands why Type 1 was left out for start. He said there wasn’t enough data because not that many people have Type 1, but now that the studies are out, it’s a positive move.
“All of my diabetes patients ask when they can get the vaccine,” said Harlan.
Diabetes organizations, including JDRF, also welcome the decision.
“I wish this had happened sooner for the diabetes population. There are many people who could and should have used the vaccine sooner, but right now we are so grateful that the change has been made,” said Lisa Wallack, the deputy Chair of the JDRF International Board of Directors.
Proponents are now pressing for all states to adopt the CDC’s guidelines.
Massachusetts recently added asthma to the list to bring it into line with federal guidelines. Hence, diabetics are confident that it is only a matter of time.
“We can’t wait much longer,” said von Goeler.