How to calculate your body mass index, or BMI

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One of the ways to determine if you can get the COVID vaccine in South Carolina is your BMI. COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina is moving to Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout in the state, meaning almost 2.7 million people are now eligible to get the shot. Gov. Henry […]

One of the ways to determine if you can get the COVID vaccine in South Carolina is your BMI.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina is moving to Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout in the state, meaning almost 2.7 million people are now eligible to get the shot.

Gov. Henry McMaster announced that people in this group can begin making vaccine appointments starting Monday, March 8.  The group includes anyone over the age of 55, frontline workers, and anyone from age 16 to 54 with certain medical conditions, including diabetes and cancer.

RELATED: Half of all South Carolinians to be eligible for vaccine next week

Also on the list is anyone who has obesity, which is defined as anyone with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above. So how is that calculated?

RELATED: Type one and two diabetes included in Phase 1B rollout

The formula is the body weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of the height (in meters). That’s kg/m2.

However, there are multiple websites that you can use that let you just enter your height and weight in inches and pounds, and the calculator does the rest. One of the easiest is the CDC body mass index calculator used by the CDC.

For a person who’s 6 feet tall, for example, they would reach a BMI of 30 if they’re 221 pounds or above. For a person who’s 5 feet 5 inches tall, they’d need to weigh 180 pounds to hit that threshold. 

Overall, here’s what the BMI scale says:

Now, it needs to be said BMI is just one yardstick for determining health, and there are a lot of critics of it. It doesn’t take into account differences that come from age and gender, and it doesn’t do a good job of separating fat weight from muscle weight. But in general, it one of the ways which obesity is determined, and it’s the one the state is using. 

Here’s a more detailed look at who’s in Phase 1b, and on the horizon, who’s in Phase 1c and Phase 2. 

  • Anyone aged 55 and up
  • People with increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease
    • People aged 16-64 with one or more of the following high-risk medical conditions:
      • Cancer (current, not a history of cancer), chronic kidney disease (any stage), chronic lung disease, diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2), Down syndrome, heart disease (congestive heart disease, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, pulmonary hypertension), HIV/AIDS, solid organ transplant, obesity (BMI >30), pregnancy, sickle cell disease.
    • People who have a developmental or other severe high-risk disability that makes developing severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19 infection more likely
  • Frontline workers with increased occupational risk
    • Frontline workers with increased occupational risk are people who:
      • Must be in-person at their place of work, and
      • Perform a job that puts them at increased risk of exposure due to their frequent, close (less than 6 feet) and ongoing (more than 15 minutes) contact with others in the work environment

Based on current vaccine supply levels, DHEC anticipates Phase 1c will begin on approximately April 12, 2021. The phase will include:

  • People aged 45 and up
  • Essential workers
  • This group includes those who work in essential job categories as defined by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) who are not included in Phase 1b because they do not have frequent, close contact with others in the work environment (examples may include construction workers, delivery drivers, utility workers, etc. who do not have frequent, close and ongoing contact with others).

Phase 2 will begin on approximately May 3, 2021, and will include:

  • All South Carolinians aged 16 and up
  • Find DHEC’s online map at This online map shows the locations currently accepting appointments (many of the same ones listed below) for COVID-19 vaccine and the map will provide the contact information for scheduling appointments at those locations. The map itself is not a way to schedule an appointment.
  • DHEC has a COVID-19 vaccine information line at 1-866-365-8110 The service is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week People who have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines or who need help finding vaccine providers and their contact information are asked to call the DHEC COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line.
  • You can also schedule an appointment directly through DHEC’s website at CVAS.DHEC.SC.GOV. Appointment availability through this scheduling tool is limited to start, but is expected to grow in the coming days.
  • You will be asked to provide a driver’s license or other form of ID at your appointment that confirms your age in order to receive vaccine.
  • South Carolina residency is not a requirement to receive a vaccine.

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