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Should Primary Immunodeficiency Patients Stay Masked?

Loosening rules for COVID-19-vaccinated people don’t always apply to those who are immunocompromised, the Immune Deficiency Foundation advises patients.

woman holding a pink face mask

The Immune Deficiency Foundation is advising patients to remain cautious even as COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted in the United States and elsewhere.

 “Although the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) has advised that fully vaccinated people may be able to resume most activities, it is important to remember that the CDC is also recommending that individuals with a compromised immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated,” the IDF wrote on its website.

The advocacy group, which represents people who live with 400+ types of immune system problems, said it has been receiving a lot of questions about the changing rules. The IDF recommended patients check in with their doctors.

“Since each individual with PI (primary immunodeficiency) is different, they should contact their healthcare provider since they may need to continue taking all precautions,” the IDF wrote. “Meanwhile, researchers are studying how people with PI respond to the vaccine, and we are looking forward to receiving those answers.”

In April, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a 500-person study to look at the persistence of COVID-19 antibodies among immunocompromised people who received the vaccine.

IDF’s recent note of caution extended to family members and caregivers of those who are immunocompromised, which means someone has a weakened immune system.

“Both vaccination rates and transmission rates vary widely by state and location, as do mask requirements. Taking precautions beyond the basic minimum limits in your area (for masking, distancing, or indoor vs. outdoor venue) will reduce the risk for those around you who may have a compromised immune system or are not yet vaccinated,” the IDF wrote in the advisory.

The IDF also said it’s a founding member of the Immunocompromised Collaborative, which is asking for more specific guidance from the CDC and ensuring that the voice of patients is being heard.

Read the full IDF statement.