Fighting a deadly virus is nothing new for Rick Pantelle. He’s been fighting and managing a human immunodeficiency virus for more than 30 years.
“You never forget the day that you find out you have H.I.V. And when I found out I had H.I.V.; people were dying every single day”.
Pantelle eventually came to terms with his diagnosis and controlled his then fear. Years later coronavirus struck and swept around they world as a new deadly virus.
“My biggest fear is dying of COVID,” said Pantelle. “I don’t want to die of COVID… hit me with a truck, throw me off a bridge, wipe out a surfboard in Hawaii. I just don’t want to leave this earth in that fashion.”
While scientist and researchers created a treatment to help slow the spread of the virus with a vaccine Pantelle was hesitant about how the vaccine would help the immunocompromised.
“I do not trust that the vaccination is going to save me or save other people from giving it to me.” He went on to say, ” I knew that when I go to the vaccination I would probably need a booster shot.”
Recently, the CDC and the FDA are now recommending a booster shot for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised for various reasons.
“Just last week, I was taking care of patients in the hospital and several of them were transplant patients who received two doses of a vaccine like a Pfizer, Moderna yet they got a breakthrough infection that landed them in the hospital,” said Dr. Peter Chin Hong, Infections Disease Specialist at U.C. San Francisco.
Dr. Chin Hong went on to say that not everyone with underling health conditions, chronic diseases or immunocompromised systems need to get a booster or third shot. He says instead of naming specific circumstances using a spectrum of qualifications is more helpful.
“Maybe thinking about it as a scale. Someone who has low T-Cells, that person might get an 8 out of 10. If you have somebody who has been on HIV medicines for quite sometime, they have undetectable viral load that’s probably a 1 out of 10.”
In the meantime, Pantelle is in a better place and learning to live within this new normal.
“We’re living in the land of uncertainty, so I guess the thing to do is is to just try to be as happy every single day as you can,” said Pantelle.
For those who are immunocompromised Dr. Chin Hong suggest double masking, dinning out doors and consulting with your healthcare provider about getting the COVID19 booster shot.