What does being "immunosuppressed" mean during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Being immunosuppressed means you have inherited or acquired a reduction of the activation or efficiency of the immune system. Deliberately induced immunosuppression can be a result of chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer, or it can also occur when preventing the body from rejecting organ and bone marrow transplants, or for the treatment of an auto-immune disease. Some prescribed drug interventions, such as steroids, may also have an intended or adverse effect causing immunosuppression.
Without the body's typical immune response in the high-risk population of people who are immunosuppressed, symptoms of contracting the COVID-19 virus can be severe or even fatal.
For those who are immunocompromised, being told to wash your hands, stay away from sick people, and disinfect regularly-used items like mobile phones is not a new practice. But in the current pandemic state of a highly infectious community spread virus in 2020, the challenge lies in raising societal awareness that alters the behaviors and interactions of those who are not immunosuppressed with those that are - so as to not endanger the more than 10 million people in the U.S. whose lives are more at risk from being infected by the virus.