New medical diagnosis codes for COVID-19 immunization status have been added in the United States.
One code is for being “unvaccinated for COVID-19.”
That code “may be assigned when the patient has not received at least one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which implemented the new codes in 2022, states in a document outlining the codes.
Another code is for being partially vaccinated or having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine but not having received enough doses to meet the CDC’s definition of fully vaccinated.
The goal of the codes is “to track people who are not immunized or only partially immunized,” according to the CDC.
Experts say the codes don’t fit with the International Classification of Diseases, which has diagnoses for diseases and reasons for health care visits.
“They’re treating nonvaccination as if this is a hazardous exposure that therefore merits being recorded as a medical exposure,” Dr. Harvey Risch, professor emeritus of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, told The Epoch Times. “That’s never been done to my knowledge.”
The CDC did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
The CDC proposed adding the codes to the international classification in September 2021.
“People have now been having immunizations for a number of months, and these provide protection for people who are immunized, but there has been interest expressed in being able to track people who are not immunized or who are only partially immunized,” Dr. David Berglund, a CDC medical officer, said during a meeting that went over the proposal.
“At the current time, there can be considered to be a significant modifiable risk factor for morbidity and for mortality and it can be of interest for clinical reasons, as well as being a value for public health reasons, to be able to track this.”
COVID-19 hospitalization and death rates are higher among the unvaccinated, according to data published by the CDC. The data do not take into account key factors such as age or prior infection, and other figures show the vaccinated being hospitalized or dying at higher rates in some states.
The proposal was backed by meeting participants during the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) Coordination and Maintenance Committee meeting.
“I definitely think we would support this,” Kristin Balint, a supervisor at Trinity Health, said. “We are currently seeing physicians documenting unimmunized for COVID-19 in our records.”
Jeanne Yoder, representing the Defense Health Agency, envisioned adding additional codes later to indicate if a person was not vaccinated against each successive variant.
The organizations of the people who backed the proposal either did not respond to requests for comment or declined inquiries.