As Ohio’s health orders expire, doctors say immunocompromised patients should wear masks


COLUMBUS (WCMH) – As pandemic health orders lift in Ohio and around the country, doctors caution there are still groups at risk for COVID-19.

Central Ohio family physician Dr. Anup Kanodia explained declining case numbers and rising vaccination rates are signs it’s safe to loosen restrictions for the general population, particularly those who have been vaccinated.

“We’re not seeing a resurgence at this point as Columbus and the state of Ohio is opening up, or even across the country,” he said.

The CDC’s latest guidance allows vaccinated individuals to stop wearing masks in both indoor and outdoor public places, while encouraging those who are unvaccinated to continue taking precautions.

Researchers are urging the same caution for cancer patients, transplant recipients and others who are immunocompromised or taking medication that could increase their risk for infection. They point to early evidence the vaccine does not give those groups sufficient immunity against the virus.

“Those populations should not consider the no mask, no social distancing [policy] applies to them,” Kanodia said.

He also said the same should be true for anyone in close contact with someone in those populations.

“So many of us know people with cancer, know people that have autoimmune diseases, are immunocompromised or are taking medications,” he said.

Studies are investigating whether at-risk groups would benefit from a higher dose or booster of the COVID-19 vaccine. Kanodia explained it’s akin to higher doses of flu vaccine given to older populations or a third Hepatitis B shot for HIV/AIDS patients.

Scientists are still studying the effects of the vaccine in immunocompromised individuals and doctors say it’s best to err on the side of caution if you or someone close to you has such a condition.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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