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The number of immunocompromised people in the United States is not insignificant. Over 700,000 organ transplants have taken place in the United States since 1988. In 2016, more than 4 percent of the U.S. population reported being told by a health professional that they were immunocompromised in some way. While studies show some are able to develop antibodies, the future for many of us is uncertain. After being vaccinated, I was given a spike protein test to see if I had immunity. When I learned I had developed no antibodies, I felt sick to my stomach: How will I persuade others to continue to be careful? How many vulnerable people don’t realize they aren’t protected?

C.D.C. guidelines on masking rely on an honor system, and it’s impossible to know whether people are unmasked because they are vaccinated or because they oppose vaccination and masking. Polls show that many people who plan not to get vaccinated already feel safe going unmasked indoors. The messaging from the C.D.C. suggests that we can choose safety: “You’re protected if you’re vaccinated, you’re not if you’re not vaccinated,” said the C.D.C. director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. For many Americans that isn’t necessarily true, but there’s no colorful infographic for the immunocompromised about what we can or cannot do, only the statement that we should talk to our doctor. In the meantime, public spaces feel less safe. Only 38 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, and masking works better when compliance is high. So people like me wait for better medicine and wonder what happens to us if herd immunity remains elusive.

The vaccine passport on my phone is comically meaningless. Yes, I’m vaccinated, but that doesn’t actually protect me. Thankfully, I have been able to spend the pandemic working from home and shielded from danger. Like everyone else, I nurtured dreams of socializing, travel and seeing relatives I have not seen in over a year. I am tired of my apartment. I feel guilty for forcing my immediate family to continue distancing, but the mortality rates for people like me are high. I’m delighted for friends and relatives who have more freedom, but I feel stuck. I’d like to go back to February, when I thought that vaccination meant safety, or even March when I knew others would wear masks at the grocery store.

The pandemic exposed society’s ageism and ableism, with many people in the beginning months arguing that only the sick and the elderly were at risk. I thought we would learn to be more thoughtful about accommodating the vulnerable. But the invitations to large gatherings that I receive, which omit any reference to safety measures or remote attendance, feel like conscious avoidance of any disparities.