As more people get vaccinated, many are once again enjoying things they were able to do pre-pandemic.
But for millions of people across the country who are immune-compromised, that’s not necessarily the case.
What You Need To Know
- Johns Hopkins University study found vaccinated organ recipients didn't show an immune response to the COVID vaccine
- A doctor says that means people on immune-suppressants remain vulnerable to COVID-19
- One organ recipient says she's still being very careful
A Johns Hopkins University study involving hundreds of organ recipients showed nearly half of them had no antibody response after getting vaccinated.
Dr. Aftab Khan, an internal medicine specialist with AdventHealth, says right now it’s hard to tell exactly what kind of protection immune-suppressed people have because they weren’t a part of the original vaccine trials.
“So, we are in unchartered territory right now,” Dr. Khan said.
“We don’t know if people who are on immunosuppressant drugs — how the vaccine will work, if it will work.”
Dr. Khan says until herd immunity is achieved, which he believes won’t likely won’t happen in Florida by President Biden’s goal of July 4, immune-suppressed people will have to keep being very careful.
Krystle Pitts got a new kidney at the start of the pandemic. The transplant ended years of having to endure dialysis several times a week just to stay alive. But it also means she now must take medications to help keep her body from rejecting her new kidney — drugs that also suppress her immune system.
“All of the groups I follow for kidney transplant recipients — a lot of them have tested for antibodies and they don’t have antibodies for COVID-19 even though they’ve gotten the vaccine. And so, it makes me a little nervous,” said Pitts.
And that means, for her, there’s no letting up on the things people have been doing now for more than a year.
“I’m always still masked. I’m always still sanitizing because I am on immune-suppresants for the foreseeable future,” said Pitts.
Pitts says she won’t even travel for fun until it’s safe to do so. And she says it’s hard seeing so many people go back to normal aspects of life when she still can't.
“I want to travel. I want to do things. So I’d love for us to get to that point so I can also enjoy some of these things,” said Pitts.
“Until then, I’ve got to continue to be careful.”
Dr. Khan says the sooner more people get vaccinated, the better.
“People who are immunocompromised, immunosuppressed — they’re relying on us to get vaccinated. Because if we’re vaccinated, we are less prone to transfer the virus to the people who are vulnerable,” said Dr. Khan.