Before You Say Goodbye to Face Masks, Determine the Risk
As a teen, I got a T-shirt from my best friend that said “Me, paranoid? Who wants to know?” So, you see, trusting maskless strangers to be fully vaccinated just isn’t in my nature.
We are still in a pandemic. With sarcoidosis, two shots in the arm doesn’t mean we can let our guard down, as I was recently reminded.
There are still plenty of unknowns, such as how long immunity will last and whether protection against emerging variants will, too. And sometimes we overlook what’s right in front of us in our efforts to stay safe. I have done so on multiple occasions recently.
The first was a trip to the doctor, where a chatty employee told me that only half the staff were vaccinated. It was one of two appointments within a week during which it was necessary for me to remove my mask. Until then, I hadn’t worried about continuing care, because I assumed medical staff were all vaccinated.
You’d think an old prednisone pro like myself would remember about the increased risk of infection that steroids pose. But I was two days into a methylprednisolone dose pack before I thought about taking precautions. It didn’t dawn on me until after corticosteroid injections this month that they are also immunosuppressants, as the Arthritis Foundation explains.
As of last week, about 38% of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated, and roughly 48% had received at least one dose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker. Those numbers aren’t high enough for me to mingle among unfamiliar people without wearing a mask.
Vaccines are not 100% effective. I found that out years ago when I was hospitalized with pneumonia, despite dutifully getting an injection to protect myself. Although most COVID-19 breakthrough cases have been mild, some have resulted in hospitalizations and death. With outbreaks still occurring across the country, I’d rather mask up in risky situations than leave my health to fate.
Another reason I haven’t dropped the habit is because I’m enjoying a 14-month healthy streak. I also want to provide as much protection as possible to those still vulnerable to severe illness.
An estimated 10 million Americans are immunocompromised, a group in which the efficacy of vaccines is still questionable, according to a recent article by Today. Disappearing pandemic restrictions will make it even harder for them to protect themselves. When I am wearing a mask, I’m one less person they have to worry about.
Brighter side: I began closing columns with tidbits of positive news when the pandemic arrived. As brighter days return, I’ve decided to continue the practice of always ending on a good note. Enjoy!
- The $700k graduation gift: Delaware State University is canceling $730,655 in student loans for more than 220 graduates, The Philadelphia Tribune reported. The helping hand is being paid via the federal American Rescue Plan for COVID-19 relief.
- Sharing brews: Whalers Brewing Company has recently been working around the clock. But it’s not for profit. The owners told The Providence Journal they’ve been doing it so they can give away a free keg of beer to every bar and restaurant in Rhode Island. “We faced a lot of challenges but kept everyone hired,” co-owner Josh Dunlap said in the article. “We want to do our part to help everyone else now.”
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.