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Why getting the COVID-19 vaccine helps other people, not just you

Many people are immunocompromised due to medical conditions like organ transplants and studies are showing they aren't responding fully to the vaccine.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Over one million vaccinated people in South Carolina are relieved to be able to take off their masks per new CDC guidance. 

But not everyone who receives a vaccine is being protected by it, making the thought of unvaccinated people taking off their masks a little scary. 

“And I was like… oh my god this is terrible," that was what ran through Scott Bilby’s head when he read an article saying that the COVID19 vaccine may not work fully on people in a situation like his- that situation being those who are somewhat immunocompromised. He specifically by a liver transplant.

“I’ve been extremely excited about it from like the second… even long before they even had one I was looking forward to it because I had a transplant I’m a huge believer in the efficacy of Western medicine," Bilby told us. As soon as he could sign up, he received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“Then a week ago I read an unfortunate article from NPR that talked about the fact that the vaccine only works on about 47% of the people who are taking immunosuppressants which of course I’m one.”

"You need to not only get the vaccine to protect yourself, but your community around you," says Dr. Helmut Albrecht, an infectious diseases doctor at Prisma who addressed why healthy people getting vaccinated will ultimately protect people like Scott Bilby.

“Some of these people with compromised immune systems or people that have significant comorbidities that puts them at very high risk- they probably won't react as well to the vaccine, the vaccine will not protect them quite as well as other healthy people. They depend on you - including younger people - to get the vaccine to protect them," Dr. Albrecht says. 

“I thought about it and I said what would I say about the vaccines given that it may not work for me- and I thought well, I am still 100% pro-vaccine, I don’t care what kind of side effects it gives me as long as it's not COVID. And if it works for me that’s great and if not, I’m still happy that it's working for other people," Bilby says. 

Studies are still being done to examine the efficacy of the vaccine on immunocompromised people.