Protecting the immune system protects everyone



Earlier this summer, when I started planning my family’s first real vacation in two years, I carefully chose which national parks to visit. The white sands, arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Joshua Tree and Sequoia National Park easily made the cut — lots of outdoor hiking where we could avoid people. We skipped Zion – crossing the crowd and taking the necessary shuttle shuttle was too risky. My kids also wanted to see Roswell and his aliens, but the main drawing was an indoor museum. Although my husband and I have been vaccinated, both of our children are under 12 years old and therefore not vaccinated. Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recklessly rolled his recommendations masks in May, we kept asking, can we visit for sure? How many people would be there? How many masks would you wear?

The main reason for our caution and anxiety was my husband. He is taking medications that weaken his immune system. During the pandemic — especially in the last six months, as restrictions have eased — perhaps no other group has ignored Covid’s guidelines or forgotten by the general public than people with weakened immune systems. The only reason my husband agreed to our trip was because almost every place was outside. Still, it was hard not to feel on the edge every time we stopped by a gas station or walked into the hotel lobby and found no one else disguised but ourselves.

We wore KN-95, but we knew that masks provide the greatest protection when wear them and others around you. While many of my vaccinated friends started visiting places like restaurants, bars, and fitness clubs again, our family continued to do deliveries or pick-ups along the edge of most of our purchases, and the kids knew movies or arcades were out of the question. The CDC’s change in guidelines for masks has made basic jobs more risky for families like ours. Virtually no one where we live in North Texas wore masks in and with stores less than half of our county fully vaccinated, basic math told us that not everyone is vaccinated.

This lack of consideration for immunocompromised individuals, from public health bodies in general to the public in general, is dangerous not only for more than 10 million people with weakened immune systems, but also for public health in general. Alpha variant, as Science reported December almost certainly occurred due to infection in a person with weakened immunity whose prolonged fight against Covid provided ample opportunity for the virus to develop. New evidence suggests that other variants, probably including the Delta, could have developed in a similar way, and a recent report from the UK warns of the possibility of developing more variants in the same way. Our collective national choice not to protect the most endangered among us is probably also the choice to prolong the pandemic.

Until then we left in June, preliminary evidence has been suggested that my husband’s medication probably didn’t stop his immune system from responding to the vaccine, so he probably had some antibodies. But we didn’t know how rare penetrating infections really are, nor how his body could react to one.

Soon towards last week: When new data on Delta transmission among vaccinated people prompted the CDC to tighten recommendations for masks, we felt more anger than relief. We knew you couldn’t put it on spirit back into the bottle. We have seen a small increase in disguise, but most people in our area are still not disguised, as stores stopped requiring it in May. When the CDC published the data Explaining their decision a few days later, worried friends sent me a bunch of messages: What is the probability that he will get a penetrating infection? Should they stop eating in indoor restaurants? Was it still safe enough to fly?

The insecurity and anxiety many vaccinated people have felt in the past week what our family and millions of others with immunodeficient members have been living with in the last year and a half. In addition to the stakes now being higher for immunocompromised individuals, given how contagious they are, and probably more virulent, It’s Delta.

Despite the CDCs confused messages, vaccines for most people remain highly protected against serious diseases. “Mild” Covid-19 infections, however, do not necessarily have to to feel mild to infected. While many experience something like a mild cold or no symptoms, others lie in bed for two to four days with the disease.along with exhausting food poisoning”, As Susan Matthews recently wrote in Slate. If some healthy people experience this, what does a breakthrough infection look like for people with weakened immune systems? It could be much more serious, whether they have antibodies from the vaccine or not.


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