Health Tips: Do you need a booster shot, pronto?

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Sarah Hyland of “Modern Family” has had multiple kidney transplants. That means she’s immunocompromised, because of the anti-rejection drugs she has to take and because her original condition strains her immune system.

When she got her COVID-19 vaccine in March, she declared, “HALLELUJAH! I AM FINALLY VACCINATED!!!!!” Now, she sounds like a candidate for a booster shot, since it’s recommended for anyone who’s moderately or severely immunocompromised. But many people don’t know if their health challenges mean they should get a booster.

Here are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines and definition of moderately to severely immunocompromised, plus why it’s important to act now. (The rest of you will get booster shots soon -- around six to eight months after your initial vaccinations.)

1. Get a booster that’s the same brand -- Moderna or Pfizer -- you got originally.

2. Wait at least 28 days after your second injection before getting a booster.

3. You qualify as immunocompromised if:

-- You’ve been receiving cancer treatment for a solid or blood cancer.

-- Have had an organ transplant and are taking immune-suppressing medication.

-- Have received a stem cell transplant within the past two years.

-- You are diagnosed with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency.

-- Have an advanced or untreated HIV infection.

-- Are being treated with high-dose corticosteroids or any other immune-suppressing medications.

4. The booster ups your resistance to COVID-19 to a more robust level of effectiveness. If you do contract COVID-19, the booster may help reduce the severity.

Don’t compromise your health if you’re immunocompromised. Check with your doctor about a booster today!

One powerful reason to control your lousy LDL cholesterol level

We’ll start with the good and tasty news: Pecans (as in a pecan-pomegranate salad or the newly available pecan milk, not the sugar-disaster that’s pecan pie) can help you stay healthy in important ways. And since 80% of the world’s supply is grown in the U.S., pecans are never in short supply.

A study out of the University of Georgia (natch!) found that eating 2.4 ounces of pecans daily for eight weeks slashed LDL cholesterol levels by 6 to 9%, substantially reducing the risk of coronary artery disease.

Benefits beyond heart health: Lowering your LDL level does more than protect your heart health; it may help protect you from cancer. A study in Nature Communications reveals that chronically high cholesterol levels increase the risks of breast cancer and lead to worse outcomes from most types of cancer, because the cholesterol protects metastasizing cancer cells, allowing them to spread.

To send lousy cholesterol down, good cholesterol up: 1. Add pecans (and walnuts) to your plant-centered diet; ditch red and processed meats and added sugars. 2. Walk at least an hour a day five days a week to lower LDL cholesterol and consider cycling to raise heart-lovin’ HDL cholesterol.

If you take those steps but still have trouble getting your LDL to 100 or lower, ask your doc about taking a statin. It not only clears out excess LDL, it reduces inflammation and might help treat and inhibit some cancers and help manage liver disease. If you’re intolerant of statins, ask about the new alternative meds.

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