COVID still threatens millions of people with weakened immune systems


Yesha White is so fed up with the U.S. reaction to COVID-19 that she is seriously considering moving to Europe.

“I am so disgusted. Lack of care for each other, for me, is too much, ”said the 30-year-old White from Los Angeles. She has multiple sclerosis and she is taking medications that suppress her immune system. “As a black disabled person, I feel that no one gives [expletive] about me or my safety ”.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a strict definition of who is considered moderately or severely weakened immunity, for example, cancer patients undergoing active treatment, and recipients of transplanted organs. However, millions of other people live with chronic illness or disability which also makes them particularly susceptible to disease. Although the vulnerability varies from person to person and health condition – and may depend on the circumstances – becoming infected with Covid is a risk they cannot take.

As a result, those Americans who are at high risk – and loved ones who are afraid of passing the virus on to them – say they are left behind when the rest of society abandons pandemic measures such as camouflage and physical distancing.

This month, their fears have intensified by several Democratic governors, including the leaders of California and New York – places that were ahead in the implementation of the mask mandates in the beginning – have moved to the abolition of such security requirements. For many people, the move signaled a return to “normal” life. But for people who are considered weakened immune systems or face a high risk of COVID-19 infection due to other diseases, this has increased anxiety levels.

“I know my normal will never be normal,” said 44-year-old Chris Neblet of Indiana, Pennsylvania, a kidney recipient who takes immunosuppressive drugs to prevent his organ transplant rejection. “I will still wear a mask in public. I’m still probably going to go to the grocery store late at night or early in the morning to avoid other people. ”

He is particularly concerned that his wife and young daughter recently gave a positive result at COVID.

Although he is fully vaccinated, he is not sure he is protected from the worst results of the virus. Neblet is involved in Fr. A study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine tracking the immune response of transplant recipients to the vaccine, so he knows that his body produces only a small amount of antibodies after the third dose and awaits the results of the fourth. He is now isolated from his wife and two children for 10 days by staying in his second garage.

“I told my wife when Covid first happened,‘ I need to get to the vaccine, ’” he said. But the study of the vaccine has not caused an adequate immune response so far. “Your world is really changing. You begin to wonder, “Will I be a statistician?” Will I be a number for people who don’t seem to care? ‘

Scientists have calculated that almost 3% of Americans meet the strict definition of a weakened immune system, but researchers recognize that far more Americans with chronic illnesses and disabilities can be severely affected if they become ill with COVID.

By the summer of 2021, scientific data showed that people with weakened immune systems are likely to need a third vaccination, but it took the federal agencies time to update their recommendations. Even then, only certain groups of people with weakened immune systems had the right to leave others.

In October, the CDC again quietly revised its vaccine guidelines to allow immunocompromised people to receive a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine, although the recent history of KHN showed that pharmacists, unaware of this change, continued to relinquish those eligible in January.

People with weakened immune systems or other high-risk diseases say the time has come for the Omicron outbreak to subside, doubling policies that protect vulnerable Americans like them.

“The pandemic is not over,” he said Matthew Cortlandsenior researcher on disability and health Data for progresswho is chronically ill and with a weakened immune system. “There is no reason to believe that another option will not appear. “Now is the time for this wave of omicrons to recede, to pursue policies and interventions that protect the chronically ill, the disabled and the immunocompromised so that we are not left behind.”

Several KHN respondents in the community said the opposite was happening instead, pointing to a January comment by CDC Director Dr. Rachel Valensky, who meant it was “encouraging news” that most people are dying from covid were already sick.

“The vast majority of deaths, more than 75%, have occurred in people who have had at least four comorbidities, so it’s actually people who are feeling unwell,” Valensky said, discussing the study during TV interview which showed the level of protection of vaccinated people from severe diseases from Covid. “And yes, really encouraging news in the context of Omicron.”

Although The CDC later reported Valensky’s remarks were taken out of context, Kendall Sisemier, a 29-year-old multimedia producer living in Brooklyn, New York, said she was concerned about the comments.

Valensky’s statement “shocked the community of people with disabilities and patients with chronic diseases,” said Sizemir, who underwent two liver transplants.

“It was loud to say the quiet part,” she added, noting that while it was probably a mistake, the strong reaction to it “stemmed from this holistic sense that these communities were not a priority during the pandemic, and it seems that our life is an acceptable loss. ”

Asked by a KHN correspondent Press briefing at the White House, Feb. 9 what she wanted to convey to people who feel left behind, Valensky did not offer an unequivocal answer.

“We certainly need to make recommendations that, you know, are relevant to New York and rural Montana,” she said, adding that they should be relevant to the public, but also to the immunocompromised and disabled public. And yes, all these considerations are taken into account when we work on our leadership. “

Although The CDC is currently recommending that vaccinated people continue to wear masks indoors when they are in a place with high or significant COVID-19 transmission – which includes most of the United States – Federal officials have said that this guide may be updated soon.

“We want to give people a break from things like wearing masks when these figures get better, and then be able to reach them again when the situation worsens,” Valensky said during the meeting. February 16 White House briefing Covidduring the discussion on whether the CDC’s COVID prevention policy will be changed soon.

But Dennis Bohen, a 67-year-old retiree who underwent three kidney transplants, has not seen the mask break. Because his community of Worcester, Ohio, no longer has a mask mandate, and several residents volunteer to wear masks, he didn’t feel comfortable returning to the many social events he enjoyed.

“I quit going to my Rotary club, of which I have been a part for decades,” Bohen said. “One day I went on a street picnic in the summer and it was like people who didn’t believe it [in covid] or didn’t care that they didn’t wear masks and they didn’t give me a place. That’s why it was easier not to go. “

Charis Hill, a 35-year-old activist with disabilities in Sacramento, California, postponed two surgeries, a hysterectomy and an umbilical hernia, for more than a year because Hill did not feel safe. The delay meant Hill was forced to take extra medication and eat only certain foods. The operation is scheduled for March 21, but now that the mandate for the mask has been canceled in California, Hill is again thinking about postponing the procedures.

“I feel disposable. As if my life has no value, ”said Hill, who lives with axial spondyloarthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease, and is taking immune-suppressing drugs. “I’m tired of being told all the time that I should just stay home and let the rest of the world move on.”

HN (Kaiser Health News) is a national news outlet that publishes in-depth journalism on health issues. Along with policy analysis and surveys, KHN is one of the three major operational programs KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is a non-profit organization that provides the nation with information on health issues.

COVID still threatens millions of people with weakened immune systems

Source link COVID still threatens millions of people with weakened immune systems