Does that mean Americans vaccinated at least two weeks ago – meaning full immunity has started – can throw their masks in the air and hug everyone in celebration?
You must hide in public transport or if required by laws or regulations – this would apply to hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities, and even some businesses and places of local work. Children still have to wear masks to go to school.
On CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said people with compromised immunity should see their doctors before deciding to stop wearing a mask, but others, y including people at higher risk of severe Covid-19, might want to do this. , as well as.
For the most part, emerging studies suggest that people who are immunocompromised or those taking drugs that interrupt their immune system – for example, people who have had an organ transplant or are on chemotherapy – might not be as protected against it. Covid-19 vaccines. At least one study suggests dialysis patients may not be as protected, she said.
There are a number of conditions that can weaken immunity.
Certain diseases, such as HIV / AIDS, can completely devastate the body’s ability to fight infection. Patients with organ transplants must take medications that suppress the immune system daily to prevent it from rejecting the new organ. And chemotherapy works by killing cell growth to stop cancer cells from multiplying, thus weakening the immune system.
“In addition to chemotherapy, certain types of immunotherapy, stem cell or bone marrow transplants and other drugs can severely weaken the immune system,” said Laura Makaroff, senior vice president of prevention and control. early detection at the American Cancer Society.
Common conditions that weaken immunity
Many common diseases and conditions that affect millions of Americans can weaken the immune system, usually to lesser degrees. The body can react relentlessly to invaders, making it more vulnerable to infections and viruses such as Covid-19.
“I get sick very easily,” she says. “I can’t fight anything to save my life. I’m starting to throw up all over the place. It’s a terrifying thought.”
When it comes to cancer, current patients and survivors should consult their doctors before removing masks and other protection, Makaroff said.
“For people with weakened immune systems, whether it is from the cancer itself or from treatment, you may not be fully protected even if you are fully immunized. It is important to talk to your doctor. health care provider precautions. ” she said.
Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States, but unlike cancer, “the drugs used to treat heart disease, for the most part, are not immunosuppressive and should be safe. individuals, ”said the American Heart Association. President Dr Mitchell Elkind.
“Patients with heart disease are at increased risk of adverse Covid-19 outcomes, but they receive the same benefits from vaccines as those who do not have heart disease,” Elkind said.
“We recommend that patients with heart disease who have been vaccinated and are not immunocompromised for some other reason to follow CDC guidelines for wearing masks and social distancing,” he said.
Because pregnant women are at a higher risk of severe Covid-19, Walensky said the CDC encourages them to get the vaccine and the decision not to be masked will be an individual one.
Millions of Americans live with common autoimmune diseases such as “psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and lupus,” said the Dr. Cedric “Jamie” Rutland, a pulmonologist and an intensive care physician.
In autoimmune diseases, the immune system goes awry, mistakenly ordering its army of warriors to attack a person’s body.
Drugs often used to treat autoimmune diseases are designed to suppress this overzealous immune response – but it’s not targeted. Instead, the drugs weaken the entire immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to upper respiratory and urinary tract infections, pneumonia, skin infections and, of course, Covid-19.
A few studies have also shown that by dampening the immune response, people who take drugs for autoimmune diseases may not “have such a strong response to the Covid-19 vaccine,” said Rutland, the medical director of Rutland. Medical Group in Newport. Beach, California.
While the vaccination appears to be working, Rutland said he played it safe with his patients: “I take them off these (autoimmune) drugs before they get vaccinated, so they can have the immune response. appropriate, ”he said.
Ultimately, how do you decide if you fall into the “weakened immune system” category? How do you know if you should think twice before joining the unmasked masses?
“What we recommend is definitely for people who have immunocompromised diseases or on these drugs to consult their doctors,” Walensky said.
“Really, again, not everyone has to tear their mask off because our advice changed on Thursday,” she said. “So, yes, if you are concerned, please consult your doctor before removing your mask.”
CNN’s Ryan Prior and Virginia Langmaid contributed to this report.
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