3 Things You Should Know if You Are Immunosuppressed and Your Work Requires Frequent Exposure to COVID-19

Some of the conditions and treatments that can weaken your immune system and make you immunocompromised (or immunosuppressed) are as follows:

  • Cancer
  • Bone marrow transplant
  • Solid-organ transplant
  • Stem cells for cancer treatment
  • Genetic immune deficiencies
  • HIV
  • Oral or intravenous corticosteroids or other immunosuppressants that reduce the body’s capacity to fight certain infections

If you are immunosuppressed and you are a healthcare worker or your work often requires you to be exposed to COVID-19 in some other capacity, here’s what you need to know:

#1 - Transmission

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is primarily transferred from person to person in the following ways:

  • Between people who are within six feet of each other
  • Through respiratory droplets expelled from the mouth or nose while:
    • Coughing
    • Sneezing
    • Breathing
    • Singing
    • Talking
  • People can be asymptomatic and still spread the virus

#2 - Prevention

You can help protect yourself from catching the virus if you do the following:

  • Frequently wash your hands (and take breaks often to do so)
    • Use warm water and soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds
    • If soap and water are unavailable, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
    • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay as far away from other people as possible
    • Maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people (also known as social distancing)
  • Always wear a mask while working
    • Try to avoid touching your mask
    • Continue to maintain social distancing while wearing a mask
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
    • Be sure both your nose and mouth are covered with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow
    • Immediately wash your hands afterward
  • Disinfect your area religiously
    • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces as much as possible
  • Pay close attention to changes in your health
    • Be highly conscious of potential symptoms, such as:
      • Fever
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath
    • Take your temperature if you experience symptoms

#3 - Exposure

If you learn that you’ve been directly exposed to an individual with coronavirus for a prolonged period of time (at least 15 minutes of direct exposure), the CDC recommends the following:

  • Abstain from working for 14 days after becoming exposed
  • Monitor yourself for fever or COVID-19 symptoms

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