Why I’m Getting a 4th Dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine

Charlene Marshall avatar

by Charlene Marshall |

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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.

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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!

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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.

Comments

Brian Patterson avatar

Brian Patterson

Your articles always leave me with a thought or thoughts for reflection. Many thanks for this. Merry Christmas!

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Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

Merry Christmas Brian! Have a wonderful New Year - all the best in 2022.

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Eileen Owen avatar

Eileen Owen

I am a transplant patient (3 years out) who has been advised to get 3 vaccinations and now a booster. Since I had my third vaccine in August, I plan on getting the booster in February. We were getting different instructions-first get the third vaccination, then hold off, then go ahead. I will take whatever they want me to have.

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Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

Hi Eileen,

Thanks so much for writing and sharing your experience with the third dose recommendation from your team. Our information was inconsistent at first but now it sounds like they're wanting all of us with PF to get the 4th dose. I will get it, I just feel a bit wary having put that much vaccine into my body in 10 months. I trust science, no concerns there, it just makes me feel a bit uneasy. I will be eligible for mine in January. Take care and stay safe!

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Darlene (Constance) Cochran avatar

Darlene (Constance) Cochran

Smart decisions make a huge difference in the outcome of our daily lives. We learn and research, that is what IPF people do, and then we make decisions. I respect your choices and think that you are looking at the whole picture with an informed mind!! I treasure and admire that!
We are accountable for our actions so we must choose what is best/appropriate, not just what we would like. Stand by your decisions and help others understand that our decisions are really a choice between life as we know it, life as it could be worse and life ceasing to be a choice for us. I support your choices and pray that I will make the right choices as I go forward.!

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Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

Thanks so much for kind words Darlene, I couldn't agree with you more -- informed decisions based on our own (credible) research and how best we know our bodies, is important. All the best for the new year.
Char.

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Marilyn Griffin avatar

Marilyn Griffin

I have diagnosis of IPF. Does this mean I am immune suppressed?

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Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

Hi Marilyn,

Thanks for reading my columns and reaching out via the comments. Having PF doesn't necessarily mean you're immune-compromised, but it does mean your lungs are more prone to infections that would be more severe than those with healthy lungs. Most of us with IPF are immune compromised because of the medications we're on. Hope that helps!
Char.

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Steve Dragoo avatar

Steve Dragoo

Hi Charlene,

The first part of your wonderful article (as is all of this article) is spot on. Many don't understand much about the grieving process after we discover this dreaded disease has found a new home in us. It is important for us to process the emotions (EI - Emotional Intelligence) and you expressed them succinctly and openly.

Thank you, friend.

Stay well,
Steve

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Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

As always, spot-on Steve! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and wishing you the best in 2022. Looking forward to our continued friendship. Much love, Char.

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Dottie Paige avatar

Dottie Paige

Thank you Charlene…I am drinking in all information and personal experiences that I can. I was diagnosed in April and just becoming aware of some realities. I am a retired registered nurse, but knew nothing of this disease….I’m learning. I live in Florida, but had to make an emergency trip to Boston, as my daughter, who ran the Boston Marathon in October, was diagnosed with oral cancer.. I was scared to death to fly and still am because I have to fly home eventually. My daughters surgery was a success! Thank goodness!
Again,
Thank you, Dottie

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Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

Hi Dottie,

Thanks so much for reading my columns and reaching out via the comments. I'm so sorry to hear of your daughter's diagnosis, but grateful the surgery was a success. All the best to you both in 2022! Reading personal experiences is so beneficial for those of us with this disease. Our forums platform is amazing for that if you're interested in checking it out: https://pulmonaryfibrosisnews.com/forums/

Take care,
Charlene.

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john leavitt avatar

john leavitt

i'm considering using my nebulizer to ingest a duluted amount of eucaliptus into my lungs, looking for opinions on this for some persons have improved their lungs by rubbing it on their chest

john

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Kumar Tharmalingam avatar

Kumar Tharmalingam

Thanks for this website. Very happy to know there are others with my condition and your comments allow me to learn more on how to protect myself.

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Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

You're welcome Kumar! The PF News forums are also a wealth of information too: https://pulmonaryfibrosisnews.com/forums/

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james christenberry avatar

james christenberry

I had just started my 2nd year with IPF when was exposed 1 week after getting the 3rd (booster) vaccine and tested positive 2 week post booster. My mild symptoms, runny nose and light congestion X 4 days managed with Muscinex, I give credit to the Vaccines. Full disclosure Thursday 6 days after testing positive and 1 day free of symptoms I also got the monoclonal antibody infusion that had been ordered by my GP on Monday. Even though I felt fine by the end of the first week I stayed isolated till I tested negitive 21 days after testing positive.

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Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

I'm so glad to hear your experience with COVID was manageable following the vaccine, James. Wonderful news and thanks for sharing as I know so many people who (understandably) have major concerns about getting COVID with IPF. Stay well and all the best in 2022
Char.

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