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How long a period should I wait to be in contact with someone exposed to COVID?

Ask the Doctor Question:

I have CLL and am being treated. A friend of mine had pneumonia and was in hospital and was discharged last Saturday. Her husband had COVID and just got out of the hospital this past Monday. Neither of them had been vaccinated (to my dismay). How long a period should I wait to be in contact with her. I received my booster shot 3 weeks ago.

Answer: If they are healthy individuals with no immunocompromised concerns, according to the CDC recommendations as long as they are 14 days out AND without symptoms, they should no longer be shedding the virus. If they are above the age of 65 or have any other factors that may impair their immune system, they could potentially shed the virus a little longer.

Since you are immunocompromised it would be highly recommended that you wear a mask (preferably a tightly fitted N-95) at all times if you are going to be in contact with others outside of your household, whether you are vaccinated or not. This is especially true if you are going to be indoors.

And thank you for getting your booster shot! Have you had your COVID-19 spike antibody levels measured to find out if you had any response to the vaccine yet? That too would be something that should be taken into careful consideration before making any decisions to be in close contact with others. We’re not sure what treatment you are on, but you have probably seen on our website that being on treatment for your CLL greatly impairs your ability to mount a response to the COVID-19 vaccines. Here is a link to one of the articles just in case you haven’t already read it: https://cllsociety.org/2021/07/lls-covid-19-vaccine-trial-antibody-response-to-sars-cov-2-vaccines-in-patients-with-hematologic-malignancies/

Remember, natural immunity is much less predictable, variable from person to person, because it is dependent upon how much of a viral load each person was exposed to. This would be considered a high-risk situation for someone with CLL to put themselves into, especially if they continue to remain unvaccinated.