How to keep the medically vulnerable safe during the holidays

How to keep the medically vulnerable safe during the holidays

By DeeDee Stiepan, Mayo Clinic News Network

Troy Warren for CNT #Health #COVID-19

You can take several steps to protect those with weakened immune systems from COVID-19

If you or a loved one is immunocompromised and therefore at a higher risk of becoming severely ill from COIVD-19, it’s more important than ever to plan ahead for upcoming holiday gatherings. Among those at heightened risk are cancer and transplant patients who are taking immunosuppression medication, in addition to patients with advanced and untreated HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Raymund Razonable, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases physician who works with transplant patients, explains the steps patients and their loved ones can take to reduce their risk of getting infected with COVID-19 during the holiday season.

When it comes to protecting those with weakened immune systems from COVID-19, people can take several steps.

“The No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 (things are) vaccine, vaccine, vaccine. Get vaccinated,” Razonable said. “That’s still the best measure to prevent infection.”

He recommends that patients who are immunocompromised receive three doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine or two doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

It’s also just as important to keep a circle of safety around you. In other words, ensure family and friends you come into contact with also are vaccinated.

“I usually advise my patients that if you love your relatives who are immunocompromised, then get the vaccine, because this will make it less likely for you to get the virus. And if you’re around them, that means you are less likely to transmit the virus,” Razonable said.

Keeping track of COVID-19 case counts in your local community can help when deciding risks associated with various activities.

“If the transmission in the community is pretty high, then this is probably not the best time to go out in public areas. If you really have to go out, make sure you know to mask up and try to kind of stay away from large gatherings as much as possible,” he added.

Finally, if immunocompromised patients are exposed, they should contact their health care provider right away, even if they don’t have symptoms.

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By Troy Warren

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