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News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida can help. Our responsibility is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Docs Warn Immunocompromised To Mask Up, With Or Without Vaccine

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Dr. Khaled Fernainy of AdventHealth says that vaccinated immunocompromised patients can still get very sick with COVID and even end up on a ventilator.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise in Orange County, AdventHealth doctors say it’s crucial for immunocompromised people to wear a face mask even if they’re vaccinated.

About 310 patients are being treated for COVID-19 at AdventHealth Central Florida’s hospitals in the Orlando area, an increase from previous weeks.

Dr. Khaled Fernainy, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist with AdventHeath, says he’s also seen an increase in COVID patients in the intensive care unit. Fernainy says most of these patients are young and unvaccinated.

But a small, yet growing population are vaccinated and immunocompromised.

“The immunocompromised patients definitely can get, can catch the disease," he says. "If they’re unvaccinated it’s a disaster, a catastrophe. But if they’re vaccinated, generally the disease is a little ameliorated but they can get very sick, they can end up on the mechanical ventilator, they can end up with serious issues.”

Dr. Steven R. Smith, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of the AdventHealth Research Institute, says in some cases these patients simply can’t produce enough antibodies to fight off the virus even with the shot.

Smith says that’s why people with autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease or arthritis should keep wearing a mask, use social distancing and wash their hands to prevent infection.

“You want to be a little extra cautious if you have one of those conditions. Wear your mask. Be very cautious and careful out there because there is this background of coronavirus that’s still out there and going the wrong way.”

The rolling 14-day positivity rate in Orange County is near 6 percent.

Copyright 2021 WMFE.

Danielle Prieur