Don’t Forget the Immunocompromised

Much of the national discussion on COVID has revolved around the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated, and what that distinction means for rates of infection, hospitalization, and death. But there is a third group, made up of those who follow the rules, but still face a threat: the immunocompromised. 

I am one of them, and I faced some important decisions last spring when I learned that the new COVID-19 vaccines did not work for more than half of organ transplant recipients such as myself. The problem is that the medications we take to avert organ rejection can also suppress our antibody-producing cells. 

Sure enough, testing showed that my first and second vaccine doses produced no detectable antibodies. I got boosted anyway given the chance that the vaccine might strengthen T-cell mediated immunity, another component of the immune system.

Despite my vulnerability, I decided to live as normally as possible. Not that I was reckless. I wore a mask indoors, observed the same maniacal hand hygiene I have followed since my first kidney transplant in 2006, and socialized only with people who were vaccinated. 

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