More than 30,000 residents of Washington battle Type 1 diabetes (T1D), a life-threatening autoimmune disease in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Recent studies strongly support priority access to COVID-19 vaccines for those with T1D. States such as Alaska, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia have made the vaccine available to the T1D community, and it is time for Washington state to do the same.

Studies by Vanderbilt University and UK scientists show that people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and have T1D have three to four times higher risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death.

COVID-19 for people with T1D frequently results in diabetic ketoacidosis, which is life-threatening. Thus, T1D patients and hospitals treating them must cope with the compound effects of two life threatening medical conditions simultaneously. Research shows that even young, healthy patients with T1D remain at increased risk for bad outcomes. In addition, a recent study found that people of color with T1D and COVID-19 were nearly four times more likely to be hospitalized than Caucasian individuals with T1D and COVID-19.

Based on these factors, it is imperative that state officials ensure that people with T1D are designated as high priority for receiving COVID-19 vaccines immediately.

Mike Boyle, president, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation board of directors; Joe Brogan, vice president, JDRF board of directors; and Sean McParland, executive director, JDRF Pacific NW Chapter, Seattle