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Study confirms mRNA vaccines less effective in people with suppressed immunity

About 3% of adults in the U.S. have a condition that suppresses their immune system, which raises concerns that they might not receive as much protection from mRNA-based coronavirus vaccines.

A nine-state  study released by the CDC bears that out.

The analysis of 89,000 adults from Jan. 17–Sept. 5, 2021, found full vaccination with Pfizer or Moderna was 90% effective at keeping people with conventional immunity out of the hospital, but only 77% effective among people who were immunocompromised.

The pattern held true regardless of mRNA vaccine used, age group, timing of hospitalization or prevalence of the delta variant in the relevant state.

Effectiveness varied within that group, from 59% for transplant recipients to 81% among people with inflammatory disorders.

The findings support CDC guidelines that people with such conditions receive three doses and practice precautions like masking and distancing. If infected, they should be monitored closely and given early access to treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, that reduce disease severity.

Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.