Do those of us with pulmonary fibrosis still need to be concerned about COVID in 2022? COVID-19 B1.5 variant now predominant in North America and Europe and cases are rising, although not at the rate as in 2021. From what I see, most people are behaving as if the epidemic is behind us. But, research documents that those with interstitial lung disease are more susceptible to getting COVID-19 and are more likely to develop a severe case than those who do not have ILD (Myall, Martinovic and West, How COVID -19 Interacts with Interstitial Lung Disease, 2021). What precautions are you taking?
1. Get Vaccines and Boosters
Vaccines and boosters are providing the best protection from COVID-19. In the United States, the recommendation is to be fully vaccinated. The CDC recommendations are for those over 50 or who are immunocompromised to have two booster shots. Second boosters are widely available in the U.S. now. Here’s what Dr. Deji Adegunsoye, a speaker and friend of PF Warriors, shared on his Twitter account.
Privileged to care for dozens of patients with #COVID_19 in the medical ICU these past couple weeks and literally NOT ONE PERSON was “fully vaccinated and boosted”. Still can’t believe there are those who say the #vaccines are ineffective.#WINTER #BoosterJab #GetVaxxed— Deji Adegunsoye (@drdayjee) December 18, 2021
2. Ask Your Doctor about Monoclonal Antibodies
The US FDA has approved monoclonal antibodies as a preventative measure against COVID-19 for certain immunocompromised people. Under the brand name, Evusheld, two injections given in one visit can offer additional protection. Your hospital may have recently updated its guidelines on who is eligible, so ask your doctor about its availability and whether it is appropriate for you. Some of the medications you take may lower your immunity and make you a candidate for this preventative treatment.
3. Wear Masks in Public
You, your family members, and frequent contacts should wear masks in any public indoor setting, especially if your community is having high or medium COVID cases. Use an N95 rated mask, if you can tolerate it. Be aware: now that home testing is available, COVID cases are likely under reported. So actual cases are higher than reported by government agencies or media. Mask requirements have been relaxed, too, so fewer people than ever are using masks in restaurants or when shopping. I flew on an airplane recently and was one of only half a dozen passengers who wore an N-95 mask during the flight. I have continued to mask at the grocery, at the pharmacy, and anywhere in public to protect my partner. Even if no one else is masked, your own mask will offer some protection from airborne particles. For me, masking is an easy precaution.
4. Get Tested and Treated Early
If you know you have been around someone what has had COVID, get tested as soon as possible. Call your doctor and seek treatment right away, even if your symptoms are mild. Early treatment is more effective treatment.
The Bottom Line
COVID may be with us for much longer than we hoped. Unfotunately, those of us with chronic lung disease must take extra precautions to protect our lung function. While I know people with pulmonary fibrosis who have survived COVID or have had mild or moderate cases, there is still the risk. Take steps to protect your lungs.