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Study finds vaccines immunosuppressed patients don’t have same antibody response to COVID-19 vaccine

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 10:29 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Those with weakened immune systems were some of the first to qualify for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. But new studies show they may not build up antibodies from the shots like other individuals. Now, doctors are looking into whether a third shot may be needed for those patients.

Those with weakened immune systems were some of the first to qualify for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. However, new studies show they may not build up antibodies from the shots like other individuals. Now, doctors are looking into whether a third shot may be needed for those patients.

‘Love Thy Neighbor’ — that is the way State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs described the need for folks to take precautions and get vaccinated — particularly if their loved one is immunosuppressed like liver transplant recipient Gary Herritz.

“I don’t expect people to go out of their way for me but just remember that there’s people like me that I know that haven’t had even had a response to the vaccine, and they could easily contract COVID and have a very bad outcome,” said Gary Herritz.

Herritz is in a slightly different situation because he tested positive for COVID-19 in January and received monoclonal antibodies. He’s since signed up for a Johns Hopkins study seeking to learn more about transplant patients’ reactions to the vaccine. Pre-dose one, his antibodies were high.

“But you can’t sit here and say if you have this many antibodies, then you’re going to be OK,” noted Herritz. “I had my first vaccination, and then roughly two and a half, three weeks after that, I had my second lab draw, and I came back with the same amount of antibodies.”

Still, he doesn’t know how long any protection from those may last and hasn’t had his next lab work to learn if dose two boosted his antibody numbers.

“Absolutely, I worry about that,” he added.

Mississippi State Medical Association Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Jennifer Bryan says it makes sense if you stop and think about it.

“You’re relying on the immune system to develop a response to the vaccine,” explained Bryan. ”That’s how vaccines work. And so if your immune system is suppressed for some reason, then there is some data that’s out there that’s really not unexpected because some of these people may have less of a response and less immunity. Most everything we do is about protecting the vulnerable with our virus response.”

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