How Immune Compromised Individuals Can Stay Safe During COVID
March 30, 2020
So far, there have been thousands of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Generally, the virus is accompanied by mild to severe symptoms that appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. The most commonly experienced symptoms reported so far include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. While everyone should be practicing social isolation and in many states sheltering at home, health officials are urging immunocompromised individuals to take much stricter measures in order to better their chances for staying safe and healthy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who are immunocompromised have weakened immune systems and as a result, have less of an ability to fight off infections, viruses, and diseases. Some examples of those who are immunocompromised include people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, people who have had transplants or who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs, and individuals with certain inherited diseases that affect the immune system. Because immunocompromised people face different risks than people with healthy immune systems, the CDC is recommending that they consult directly with their healthcare providers to reduce the chances of getting sick during the COVID outbreak.
Safety Tips For People Who Are Immunocompromised
Not only is it a good idea to consult directly with your provider if you are someone who is immunocompromised, but it is also a good idea to take safety precautions to the limit the risks of developing serious medical complications associated with COVID-19. People with immune system deficiencies who contract COVID-19 are more likely to experience pneumonia, acute respiratory failure, cardiac injury, and secondary infections. In some cases, these complications can be deadly. Here are just a few of the CDC’s tips for ways people with compromised immune systems can take action:
- Avoid all cruise travel and any non-essential air travel,
- Stock up on household items and supplies like groceries, medications, tissues, and other items necessary to treat fever and other symptoms,
- When out in public, stay away from people who are ill and try to avoid close contact in general,
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after touching surfaces in public places, blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing,
- Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs, which includes disinfecting frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, tables, toilets, faucets, cell phones, etc.,
- Avoid crowds as much as possible – especially in poorly ventilated spaces and with limited air circulation,
- Focus on keeping space (at least six feet) in between yourself and others, and:
- If there is a COVID outbreak in your community, stay at home as much as you can to reduce your exposure risks
The CDC also recommends contacting your healthcare provider to obtain extra necessary medications in the case that a COVID-19 outbreak in your area limits your ability to leave the house for a prolonged period of time. If it is not possible to obtain extra necessary medications, start looking into mail-order options. Immunocompromised individuals should also look into mail-order delivery options for groceries and other necessities. If you have questions about how to protect yourself, contact your care provider directly.
To stay up to date with important health and safety updates for residents of the state of Pennsylvania, please visit: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx.
For nationwide updates from the CDC, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
We will continue to update this story as it develops.
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