Even fully vaccinated, people with organ transplants aren’t fully protected until more Americans get their shots

 

 

When can we go back to Starbucks?”

My brother, Anmol, asks me that question every time I’m home for a visit.

It’s our tradition. When I’m home, the two of us go to a nearby Starbucks. Anmol doesn’t know a venti from a grande or a mocha from a hot chocolate, so I order whatever I think he’ll like and something for me. As we sit inside the cozy cafe, he nurses his drink and tells me what time the recycling truck came by the house, how many paper bags he’s added to his collection, what random person’s birthday is coming up, and much, more more.

Anmol really looks forward to this ritual. He doesn’t get out of the house much, and only sees me every few months.

He doesn’t actually see me. Anmol has been blind since he had a stroke before he was 2 years old, a complication of the congenital kidney disease that caused his intellectual disability and necessitated a kidney transplant at age 3. He’s been on drugs to suppress his immune system for the past 33 years.

The pandemic has interrupted our ritual. Anmol lives with our parents, both in their 70s, and I live more than 400 miles away, working as a doctor on inpatient medical wards taking care of patients with Covid-19 at the hospital in New England that has treated the most Covid-19 patients. I come home for a visit only when I feel comfortable I won’t be bringing the virus with me.

As a physician, I was in the first wave of people to be vaccinated. My family got their shots a few months later. Now that we are all vaccinated, Anmol wants to go to Starbucks.

I’m not sure we’re ready to do that.

 

 

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