For nearly two years, the United States – and indeed, the world – has found itself contending with the novel coronavirus. While the availability of vaccines – and vaccine boosters – is cause for celebration, a large unvaccinated subset of the population and new COVID-19 variants have prevented the pandemic from coming to a definitive end. Although the last 22 months have been tough on all of us, this period has been particularly difficult for people with compromised immune systems. With new COVID-19 projected to skyrocket this winter, it’s important that all of us do what we can to protect the safety of the immunocompromised.
Get Vaccinated and Stay Current with Boosters
Unless you suffer from a medical condition that prohibits you from getting vaccinated, you have no excuse for not yet receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines are available free of charge and have shown to be highly effective at preventing serious and fatal cases of the novel coronavirus. While it’s true that you may experience some minor side-effects for up to several days following each injection, said side-effects are nothing compared to an active COVID-19 infection.
Some vaccine-hesitant individuals opt to frame their decision as a matter of individual choice. However, it’s important to understand that your choice doesn’t just affect you. By walking around unvaccinated, you’re not only placing your health at risk, but the health of everyone with whom you interact – particularly people with compromised immunity, who are far more likely to experience severe and deadly cases of COVID-19. So, even if you aren’t particularly concerned about the effects a COVID-19 infection would have on you, just remember that this is a matter of public health – and other people shouldn’t have to suffer because of your bad decision.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you’ll need to stay current with vaccine boosters. Currently in the U.S., adults who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines are eligible to receive boosters at least six months after completing their primary vaccination series.
Alternatively, adults who received the Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine are eligible to receive boosters at least two months after receiving their primary vaccination. Since there’s a good chance that further boosters will be necessary, make sure to stay current with all COVID-related news from the CDC and WHO. Parents should also take note that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has recently been approved for children aged five and up.
Run Errands for Immunocompromised Loved Ones
Even for people with perfectly functional immune systems, venturing out into public can be a risky venture at this point in time. As such, you should save immunocompromised loved ones the trouble of doing so at every available opportunity. For example, making grocery runs and picking up prescriptions can prove tremendously helpful to people who are taking their lives into their hands every time they leave the house. With a staggering number of people no longer masking up, social distancing or taking other common-sense precautions, now is a particularly dangerous time for individuals who are immunodeficient.
Additionally, if any of the immunocompromised individuals in your life are seniors, there’s a chance that they aren’t well-versed in modern technology. If this is indeed the case, show them how to grocery shop, order prescription refills and tend to other essential errands remotely. This knowledge is likely to serve them well, even after the pandemic is (eventually) in the rearview. Just don’t get frustrated if they’re unable to immediately retain everything you’ve taught them. With a little bit of practice, running remote errands will probably seem like second nature to them.
Taking part in blood or platelet donation drives can be a great way to help the immunocompromised – as well as others who find themselves in medical distress. If you’re unclear on how or where to donate, simply get in touch with your doctor, a local medical center or an established charity.
Even without a compromised immune system, getting through the last two years has been a true test of patience, endurance and fortitude. That being the case, just imagine how difficult this trying time has been for people struggling with immunodeficiencies. Thanks to the continued prevalence of vaccine hesitancy and highly infectious COVID variants, infection rates are up in many parts of the country. In addition to protecting ourselves from the ongoing threat of the novel coronavirus, we should also do everything in our power to keep immunocompromised friends and family members safe.