On March 29, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidelines to include type 1 diabetes (T1D) on the list of medical conditions associated with higher risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. This is welcome news for both the T1D community and JDRF who have been advocating for the prioritization of COVID-19 vaccines for those with T1D following the release of compelling data that show adults with diabetes – type one or type two – who contract COVID-19 have three to four times higher risk of severe illness and hospitalization.
In December 2020 when T1D wasn’t initially included in the CDC’s guidelines, JDRF met with CDC staff to share the new evidence, submitted comments and organized testimony to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), worked with other diabetes organizations and allies in Congress to inform key decisionmakers, alerted health-focused news and media outlets, and developed a COVID-19 Vaccine Access Toolkit for the T1D community if they wished to take action in their respective states.
Even though the CDC sets national guidelines, each state is ultimately responsible for its plans for vaccine distribution. Because of this, since the beginning of the year, the T1D community has advocated to state decision makers to prioritize those with T1D, and we’ve seen 25 states revise their policies as a result.
What does this all mean for states who haven’t currently listed those with T1D as eligible alongside T2D and other high-risk diseases?
The good news is that many states are already relying on the CDC’s guidelines to inform their phases for distribution. That said, the vaccine prioritization landscape remains very fluid, so we urge you to stay current on what’s happening in your state by visiting your respective state department of health website. Our Vaccine Access Guide also details several steps you can consider taking to advocate for vaccine access for people with T1D if you find that your state has not adjusted its guidelines.
Above all, inclusion of T1D in the CDC’s list of high-risk medical conditions is an important step toward saving lives, reducing the risk for additional COVID-19 complications, and protecting the T1D community which remains a priority for JDRF. We’d like to thank the members of our community who have worked with us for months and provided their time, talents, and expertise to urge key decision makers to recognize the elevated risk of COVID-19 to adults with T1D. We’d like to thank our T1D champions and Congressional Diabetes Caucus Co-Chairs: Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO-1) and Representative Tom Reed (R-NY-23), and Senate Diabetes Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). We’d also like to thank Dr. Justin Gregory and his colleagues for conducting and sharing the research that recognized the severity of COVID-19 among the diabetes community as well as the many other diabetes organizations that advocated for the prioritization of T1D alongside us.
To read more about our advocacy efforts as well as common questions about the vaccines, please visit our Vaccine Access Guide.