'I have no immunity': Transplant patient shares why COVID booster is 'critical'

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone via WLS logo
Friday, August 27, 2021
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Vaccine boosters have begun and the I-Team is following up with one heart transplant patient who was fighting to get a vaccination before it was too late.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- COVID vaccine booster shots have begun and the I-Team is following up with one heart transplant patient who was fighting to get a vaccination before it was too late.

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Cook County resident and heart transplant patient, Scott Rosenberg, is protected again after he recently received his COVID-19 booster vaccination.

"I have no immunity against COVID, even though I was vaccinated twice. My immunity levels are very, very low compared to the general public -- almost nonexistent," Rosenberg told the I-Team. "So I'm hopeful this third shot will provide me with some more immunity than I have right now."

You may remember the 60-year-old heart transplant recipient when the I-Team exposed his struggles getting the vaccine in February.

He, and other transplant patients who lived in Cook County, weren't in the 1A or even the 1B category for receiving their initial vaccines, putting them at risk.

"I just, I try not to think of myself. I'm also trying to think of others who may be in their teens, 20s, 30s, who are organ transplant recipients, who are in the same situation I have been medically, but maybe don't have the ability to have other people help them. They're alone," Rosenberg told the I-Team in February.

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Experts said transplant patients are 80% more likely to be admitted to the hospital, 30% more likely to end up in the intensive care unit and their mortality is high.

Luckily, Rosenberg eventually got his vaccine in time.

"For me, this whole vaccine thing, it's just a miracle," he said.

Now, after 8 months, the FDA and CDC said his protection decreases, which means a booster is necessary.

For transplant patients, this is even more critical because their immunity can diminish to nothing.

Rosenberg is part of a small study of heart transplant patients at Loyola University Medical Center. They are monitoring the transplant patients' immune response after being vaccinated over a year period. The hospital is also watching for evidence of organ rejection after their patients receiving the vaccine.

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"I was excited but a little nervous. There is a possibility of showing chances of rejection, nobody can be certain of that yet," Rosenberg said.

Fortunately, he isn't showing any signs of rejection of his heart transplant. He said he only felt a bit sluggish for about six hours after his booster.

Rosenberg's immune system will be checked in the coming weeks to see how well the booster worked.