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Immunocompromised More Likely to Have Breakthrough Cases

Three national health organizations encourage the public to take action to protect people who are more vulnerable

CHICAGO – Today, the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American Lung Association and American Thoracic Society released the following statement in response to the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“Recently, there has been a dramatic rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations due to the highly contagious Delta variant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review, vaccinated immunocompromised people are more likely to have breakthrough infections leading to hospitalization. The CDC reports that ‘44% of hospitalized breakthrough cases are immunocompromised people.’

“Our organizations urge every eligible person to get vaccinated, to wear a mask in indoor public spaces no matter your COVID-19 vaccination status, and to follow other CDC guidelines including maintaining social distancing, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, washing your hands often, and staying home if you feel unwell. It is important for everyone to follow CDC guidelines; these recommendations are especially important to protect the immunocompromised population, including those with cancer, who are at higher risk for COVID-19 hospitalization and death, even when vaccinated.

“Currently, three COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, safe and effectively reduce your risk of severe illness. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Comirnaty, has recently received full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

“Wearing a mask is the best way to minimize the number of droplets and aerosols you inhale and decreases your risk of infection. If you are infected, experiencing mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, wearing a mask reduces your risk of spreading the virus and infecting others. Wearing a mask has no impact on oxygen levels, even for those with chronic lung diseases.”

“We encourage everyone to wear a mask according to CDC recommendations and to get their COVID-19 vaccine to not only protect themselves, but to protect those for whom the vaccine offers less protection, those who are immunocompromised, and those who can’t get vaccinated, such as children under age 12.”

For media interested in speaking with an expert about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines and masking, contact the American Lung Association at Jill.Dale@Lung.org or at 312-940-7001.

About the American College of Chest Physicians

The American College of Chest Physicians® (CHEST) is the global leader in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of chest diseases. Its mission is to champion the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of chest diseases through education, communication, and research. It serves as an essential connection to clinical knowledge and resources for its 19,000+ members from around the world who provide patient care in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine. For information about the American College of Chest Physicians, and its flagship journal CHEST®, visit chestnet.org.

About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.

About the American Thoracic Society

Founded in 1905, the American Thoracic Society is the world's leading medical society dedicated to accelerating the advancement of global respiratory health through multidisciplinary collaboration, education, and advocacy. Core activities of the Society’s more than 16,000 members are focused on leading scientific discoveries, advancing professional development, impacting global health, and transforming patient care. Key areas of member focus include developing clinical practice guidelines, hosting the annual International Conference, publishing four peer-reviewed journals, advocating for improved respiratory health globally, and developing an array of patient education and career development resources. Please visit our website to learn more.