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Immunocompromised patients at high-risk for developing COVID-19, even after vaccination

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 8:51 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - CoxHealth’s President and CEO Steve Edwards tweeted six vaccinated patients have died from COVID-19 pneumonia. Edwards says those six had been high risk and immune compromised

The Aids Project of the Ozarks deals with immunocompromised patients often. Executive director Lynne Meyerkord says vaccination efforts have been essential. Meyerkord says the office has been reaching out to make vaccination appointments for people and even offering to drive them.

“80% of our clients that are seen in the clinic are vaccinated at this point,” Meyerkord says.

Meyerkord says few of her clients have been advised not to get the vaccine.

“We have very few people that it’s recommended they not be vaccinated but that’s a very small minority,” Meyerkord says.

Meyerkord says HIV patients who are not on medication are immunocompromised. That means they are at a greater risk of getting seriously sick from COVID-19.

“A flu can kill them,” Meyerkord says. “A cold can kill them because they’re immune cells are so low that they can’t fight anything off.”

CoxHealth’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shawn Usery, says people who are immunocompromised are at a higher risk for getting sick.

“An immunocompromised person what that means is somebody who doesn’t have a good immune system and they don’t mount that great response like a normal healthy young adult would,” Dr. Usery says.

Despite getting vaccinated, those who are immunocompromised are still at risk.

“They encounter the virus and they don’t have the memory from the vaccine that a normal person would have had,” Dr. Usery says. “They can become more sick and have longer term consequences or more severe consequences.”

However, Dr. Usery says the vaccine is crucial to provide additional protection.

“They definitely should be vaccinated,” Dr. Usery says. “Everybody really should be vaccinated but those that are higher risk absolutely should be vaccinated.”

Meyerkord is urging people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and those around them.

“The Ozarks has traditionally been known as a place where people care about one another and you care about your neighbor,” Meyerkord says. “Now more than ever that’s what we need to exemplify.”

Dr. Usery says most of CoxHealth’s hospitalizations are patients not vaccinated and that’s why he is continuing to urge people to get the vaccine.

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