Immunocompromised woman says she still struggles in the pandemic

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 6:07 PM CDT
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PEORIA (WEEK) - Nearly one million Americans have died from COVID-19. While cases and mask mandates fell, for the immunocompromised they have not yet returned to a normal life.

“With the January surge when it was supposed to be such a mild form variant that was spreading. People in my support groups were dying at such alarming rates,” Jeanette Johnson from East Peoria said.

Johnson was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma in November 2020. She began remission, but she spent much of the last two years quarantined. She said it’s left millions like her feeling forgotten.

“We can’t do a convoy, we can’t protest in Washington because we are at a high risk of being in a communal setting around other people,” Johnson said. “I have a voice, but nobody is listening.”

Johnson returned to a “more” normal life, since being given Evusheld, an immune boosting drug. But she’s afraid the drug may not be available forever.

“If COVID keeps kicking up in the way that it has,” Johnson said. “I would rather have a shorter life and have a life than have to stay in my home because I am at such a great risk.”

UnityPoint Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Samer Sader said the pandemic just added to the risk the immunocompromised already faced.

“The vaccines may not really work for them, the reductions in hospitalization and mortality is not as big for them as it is for people with normal immune systems,” Dr. Sader said.

Doctor Sader said non- immunocompromised people can help keep others safe by masking and staying home when sick.

“It’s because some of these patients I knew for quite a while,” Dr. Sader said. “They had been on dialysis. They were blessed enough to receive an organ and to see them get ill with COVID and pass away. That’s a hard pill to swallow.”

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