Why I’m Getting a 4th Dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine
The weight of the world is getting heavier. With the holiday season underway and the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreading, feelings of anxiety, sadness, and fear of social isolation are increasing. While I acknowledge that predictions are not always accurate, current scientific models suggest that this variant will make for a difficult few months in many parts of the world.
As Christmas approaches this weekend, many are contemplating changing their holiday plans, myself included. It feels like the right thing to do, even though it’s deeply painful to think about spending another Christmas apart from family and friends. While prognosis is just a number, life with chronic illness is unpredictable, and celebrating the holidays is an opportunity to create quality memories with loved ones.
When I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in 2016, I began savoring quality moments over quantity. Don’t get me wrong, adjusting to that mindset took time. I experienced a range of emotions following my diagnosis, including denial, anger, fear, and sadness. While it’s still a work in progress, I’ve mostly landed at acceptance, and try to embrace each day I spend with loved ones.
Many patients with lung diseases, including IPF, have to take a variety of medications, some of which suppress our immune system. Being immunocompromised means we’re much more susceptible to illness and infection, which is less than ideal amid the pandemic. The guilt of being immunocompromised overwhelmed me shortly after my diagnosis, but now it drives me to decide what’s best for my health. Unfortunately, this includes canceling large gatherings, such as Christmas festivities, when there is an increased risk of me getting sick.
Because I’m immunocompromised, my body doesn’t develop the same level of immunity as others after receiving vaccines, so I don’t have the same protection. This means I will need a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which was recently confirmed by my transplant team. Based on their criteria, I will be eligible for my fourth dose in January, and I can’t help but feel nervous.
I believe in science, as I know it will ultimately save my life, and I trust the doctors who say a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be necessary for my protection. However, based on the timeline of my vaccinations, this will mean receiving four doses in a span of 10 months. Even though I intend to go through with it, I need my team to answer some questions first.
Seeking more information and asking questions doesn’t mean I’m skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s possible to trust science and still ask questions. Doing so helps me feel confident that I’m making an informed decision for my physical health, and it puts my mental angst at ease.
Though I have concerns, I’m also trying to remember that continuing to get COVID-19 boosters may allow me to gather in person with loved ones next Christmas. If there’s a chance that’s the case, bring on my fourth dose. I don’t want to miss another year!
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.