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  • Dan Connors

Wait just a damned minute- vaccines don't work on obese people?

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

A vaccine is being held out as our best hope for a return to normalcy from the Coronavirus epidemic. The theory goes that if enough people have immunity from the disease, it will die off because there aren't enough viable hosts to get and pass on the virus. Until that happens, it's unlikely we will be able to have mass gatherings for sporting events or concerts without risking large infectious spreads. We will continue to need to wear masks everywhere and do much of our work, shopping, and educating from home.

I don't want to get into the entire vaccine debate here, because I trust science for the most part and am grateful for the many researchers out there studying this virus. My aunt got polio at a young age and was in a wheelchair for most of her life. I'm so grateful that my generation hasn't had to worry about smallpox, polio, or other deadly infectious diseases. Before I ever get a shot, they will have to convince me that there have been verified double blind control studies showing that the vaccine actually works without any serious side effects.

I bring this topic up as part of the Covid weight loss challenge because I read about a study just this week that if and when there is a vaccine for Covid-19, it likely won't work very well on obese people. This I did not know.

Apparently scientists have known for a long time that vaccines don't work as well on the obese and overweight. That includes flu shots, hepatitis, and tetanus shots among many others that we can get. Obesity interferes with the human immune response. So not only are the obese more likely than others to be hospitalized or die if they get Covid-19, now their immune systems can't even protect them from catching it. Double whammy.

Vaccines work by turning on the immune system and generating white blood cells to combat the weakened viruses that are present. But in obese people, the blood vessels are in a chronic state of inflammation. Their immune systems never shut down, and the vaccines can't generate the response that's needed to fully protect them.

For my fellow fatties, this truly sucks. This should be even more motivation for losing weight during this critical time when thousands are succumbing to this deadly virus every day. We already knew about the other risks that came with obesity- heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease, osteoarthritis, and more. But now here comes a new one- increased risk for infections. Food is now a bigger killer than alcohol or cigarettes.

I don't care what anyone looks like. But I do care that people are healthy and happy. So now is as good a time as any to do something about it and get that BMI below 30. (We're not talking model-thin here- just a healthy, manageable weight.) And even if you're obese, go ahead and get your vaccinations, because there clearly is some benefit.

Weight loss tip #9- Take care of your health and get vaccinated. Ask your doctor about your situation and what can be done to make the vaccine more effective.

And for those people who are so damned sure they know more about vaccines than medical science, I don't know what I can say. Be glad you don't live in the age of smallpox. (Read the story of Edward Jenner and the first smallpox vaccine before you condemn all vaccines)

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