While there is no definitive proof that smoking, either marijuana or tobacco, increases a person's chances of getting COVID-19, doctors and researchers say people who smoke could be at higher risk. The illnesses often associated with smokers affect many of the same major organs, especially the lungs, heart, and vascular system, as COVID-19.

So far, researchers have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between smoking and an increased risk of getting COVID-19 or dying from it. However, as more people get vaccinated, experts are studying what factors might make someone more likely to have a breakthrough case of COVID-19. New research shows smoking marijuana might be one of those factors.

Researchers looked at vaccinated people with and without a substance use disorder (SUD). The risk of a COVID-19 breakthrough infection among vaccinated people with a SUD was low overall, but it was higher than the risk for vaccinated people who did not have a SUD. The risk varied slightly among people with different substance use disorders but was highest for those with cannabis use disorder (CUD).

When researchers factored in other characteristics such as other health conditions and poor socioeconomic status, people with most substance use disorders no longer had elevated rates of breakthrough infections. The only exception were people with CUD even though those individuals tended to be younger and had fewer co-occurring health conditions than those having other substance use disorders.

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

Health officials continue to recommend all eligible people get vaccinated and boosted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and prevent people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and even dying.

Due to the unpredictability of the virus, it is unknown when, or if, another variant may emerge and cause cases to rise again. For that reason, now is the ideal time for those who have not been vaccinated or completed their vaccine series to do so. Local health departments, health systems, and some pharmacies are currently authorized to administer vaccinations to individuals 6 months and older. Appointments are easier to schedule than ever, and some locations accept walk-ins.

The Kent County Health Department has COVID-19 vaccine appointments available at its Fuller, Sheldon, North, and South Clinic locations and offers all brands and booster doses.
To schedule, call 616-632-7200.

To find other vaccine locations, go to one of the following links:

The State of Michigan also maintains a COVID-19 Hotline to assist people in finding a vaccine location. For help call:

  • 888-535-6136 (press 1)
    • 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM Monday through Friday
    • 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM Saturday and Sunday

The Pfizer vaccine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in people aged 18 years and older. It is authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to prevent COVID-19 in children and teens aged 6 months to 17 years..

The Moderna vaccine is approved by the FDA for use in people aged 18 years and older. It is authorized under an EUA in children and teens aged 6 months to 17 years.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is authorized under an EUA for use only in people aged 18 years and older. It is not authorized for use in children and teens.

The Novavax vaccine is authorized under an EUA for use in individuals aged 12 years and older.

The emergency use of these products is only authorized for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency declaration that states circumstances exist to justify the authorization of emergency use of the medical product under Section 564(b)(1) of the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act unless the declaration is terminated or authorization revoked sooner.

In most cases, the Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax vaccines are preferred over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for the primary vaccination series due to a chance of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine causing serious harmful effects. However, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be considered in some situations including for people who:

  • Had a severe reaction after an mRNA vaccine dose or who have a severe allergy to an ingredient of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines
  • Would otherwise not get vaccinated for COVID-19 due to limited access to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines
  • Wants to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine despite the safety concerns

People must be informed of the risks and benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccination before getting it.

Talk to your healthcare provider to determine which vaccine is best for you.

New boosters were recently approved that target both the original COVID-19 virus and the widely spread Omicron variants (BA.4 and BA.5). These boosters are known as bivalent for the ability to protect against both variants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people ages 12 years and older receive one updated (bivalent) booster if it has been at least two months since their last COVID-19 dose, whether that was:

  • their final primary series dose, or
  • an original (monovalent) booster

People who have had more than one original (monovalent) booster dose are also recommended to get an updated (bivalent) booster.

Individuals 6 years of age and older may choose to get either the Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster, regardless of which primary series vaccine or original booster dose they had. Those under 6 years of age should get the same product for their primary series and booster.

The Pfizer bivalent booster is authorized for use as a single booster dose in individuals 6 months of age and older. Children 6 months through 4 years of age who have not yet started their three-dose primary series or have not gotten the third dose of the primary series will now receive the updated (bivalent) Pfizer vaccine as the third dose in their primary series.

  • Children who have completed the original (monovalent) Pfizer three dose primary series are not recommended for the updated (bivalent) COVID-19 vaccine at this time.

The Moderna bivalent booster is authorized for use as a single booster dose in individuals 6 months of age and older. Children 6 months through 5 years of age who received the original (monovalent) Moderna vaccine are now eligible to receive a single booster of the updated (bivalent) Moderna vaccine two months after completing the two dose primary series.

People are not eligible for the booster vaccine if they have not completed at least the first two dose (primary) series.

COVID-19 Testing Information

Anyone with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested, even those who are fully vaccinated or have already had COVID-19. Testing is an important step to protect family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers and stop further community spread.

To find a testing location, go to:

  • Michigan COVID-19 Test Finder
  • State of Michigan COVID-19 Hotline: 888-535-6136 (press 2)
  • COVID-19 Self-Tests
    These tests, also referred to as at home tests or over-the counter (OTC) tests, are one risk reduction measure, along with vaccination, masking, and physical distancing, that protect people by reducing the chances of spreading COVID-19.

Every home in the United States is eligible to get two sets of four free at-home tests. Order them now so you have them when you need them.

COVID-19 Treatments

For people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 infection, medications are available that can lower the chances of becoming severely ill or dying. Those more likely to get very sick include:

  • Unvaccinated people
  • People with certain medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, chronic kidney, lung, or liver disease, weakened immune system, obesity, pregnancy, or mental health and substance use disorders, etc.)
  • Older adults (50 years of age and older, with risk increasing as age goes up)

Being vaccinated makes a person much less likely to get very sick. Still, even some vaccinated people, especially those with risk factors, may benefit from treatment if they get COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for certain antiviral medications and monoclonal antibodies to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in people who are more likely to get very sick.

  • Antiviral treatments target specific parts of the virus to stop it from multiplying in the body, helping to prevent severe illness and death
  • Monoclonal antibodies help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus; however, they may not be as effective against some variants of the virus

A healthcare provider will help decide which treatment, if any, is right for you. Medications must be started as soon as possible after testing positive to be effective. Even if symptoms are mild, call your healthcare provider right away.

Do not delay: Treatment must be started within days after you first start having symptoms to be effective.

Masking Information

Masks are just one strategy that can be used to prevent the spread of COVID-19. People should consider their individual and family members' risk factors (e.g., age and medical conditions) and vaccination status when making the personal decision whether to mask. Individuals with a chronic illness or who are immunocompromised are at higher risk of more serious COVID illness and would benefit most from wearing a mask in indoor and crowded outdoor settings.

It is still recommended that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, continue to wear a mask in high-risk congregate settings including long-term and health care facilities, jails and correctional facilities, and shelters.

All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask during isolation and quarantine periods. This is an important step to protect family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers and stop further community spread.

The use of a well-fitting mask provides benefits and protection to both the wearer and to those in close contact to the wearer. Masks help reduce inhalation of potential virus droplets for the wearer as well as decreases the possibility of transmission of virus to those close to the wearer.

Masking is a personal choice. Your level of risk may be different than someone else's. Respect each other's choices.