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Immunocompromised patient: Everyone who gets vaccinated adds 'one more day to my life'

peter jouras
Posted at 2:23 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 15:23:25-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As people with weakened immune systems begin to get third doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, one local bone marrow transplant patient says he’s grateful to everyone who’s taken the vaccine.

Peter Jouras said he became immunocompromised last year undergoing cancer treatment.

As a guest on the daily University of Kansas Health System broadcast, Jouras described his current situation as the delta variant surges COVID-19 cases in the Kansas City area.

Jouras said he’d taken the first two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but had no immune system response.

He said he plans to get the third shot next week.

Dr. Joseph McGuirk, Division Director, Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapeutic, Medical Director Blood and Marrow Transplant, said studies have shown it’s common for immunocompromised patients to have “no or suboptimal” response to the COVID-19 vaccine.

McGuirk said really, the third dose should be considered a primary dose in many cases.

Even with a third dose, McGuirk said, people with weakened immune systems still “may not adequately form a full protective response.”

Because of that, Jouras said he’s grateful to everyone who has gotten the vaccine.

“Once you have cancer or a transplant or some serious medical thing, your days — you become very clear-minded that your days are… each day is very precious,” Jouras said. “So everybody who gets vaccinated, basically I think about that adding one day to my life and I’m very thankful for every single person I see who gets vaccinated. I mean they all add one more day to my life, and every one of these days is so very precious to me because of the children.”

Jouras’ kids are 9, 10 and 13. His boys are too young to be vaccinated, which means their family has to be particularly careful.

Masks are required at their school, and as soon as the kids get home, they shower and launder their school clothes.

McGuirk, who is Jouras’ doctor, also recommended he hold off on kisses and hugs amongst family for now.

Jouras said he knows that as the situation possibly worsens, he could be faced with increased isolation.

“We don't wear masks in the house, currently, but I think as things progress, I'll probably become more and more isolated into a bedroom or something,” Jouras said.

Jouras added he believes disinformation is playing a huge role in the pandemic.

“I don't have any immunity, even though I took the vaccine. And so it’d just be a shame to, to get it,” Jouras said. “Really, if we all tell the truth, it's not vaccine that's the problem. It's not delta that’s the problem, it's not COVID-19 that’s the problem. It’s disinformation is the problem.”

Immunocompromised patients can begin getting their third vaccine.

The Johnson County Health Department, along with national pharmacy chains, are offering the third dose to those who are eligible.