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'You always have that risk' | Those who are autoimmune compromised reluctant about CDC's new mask-free policy

Maura Wozniak is a double lung transplant recipient who is vaccinated but says she and her family will continue to wear masks indoors as a precaution.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — To mask or not to mask is the question for many in response to the CDC’s latest guidance no longer requiring masks be worn for those who are vaccinated. But for those with a compromised immune system, this mask change could be especially risky.

Even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, with a weakened immune system, it means there’s no guarantee the body will respond properly to provide the antibodies. That uncertainty has Maura Wozniak of Huntersville worried. She's a double lung transplant recipient and others like her with autoimmune diseases say without a mask, they feel more vulnerable.

“You always have that risk of potentially getting the virus,” Wozniak said.

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The good news is most of her close family and friends are also vaccinated which she says brings some reassurance.

“It kind of puts your mind at ease that with your core group you’re protected around them,” Wozniak said.

For the most part, Wozniak adds she’s comfortable not wearing a mask outdoors, but inside the mask must remain. 

"I just have to be aware," she said. 

It's a similar precaution she's extended to her two young children as well who aren’t yet vaccinated. 

Credit: Maura Wozniak

“When they’re outside on the playground they still wear their masks just as a precaution,” Wozniak said.  “Certainly when they get vaccinated they’ll feel a sense of relief.”

But for now, she says the biggest worry is the risk of the unknown.

“You don’t know who is and who isn’t vaccinated and they’re still going around without a mask on,” Wozniak said.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.    

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