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Akron man delivers speech to CDC panel urging recommendation of COVID-19 booster shot

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Posted at 6:24 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 19:26:11-04

AKRON, Ohio — Christmas of 2019 is the last time Phil Canuto laid eyes on his stepdaughter in person.

Over a year and a half later, while much has changed in the age of COVID-19, a lot has stayed the same for Phil.

"The world is opening up but I still—and my wife to a certain extent—feels like we can’t do everything that a lot of people feel they can do," said Canuto.

Canuto, a kidney transplant recipient, is among the 2.7% of Americans considered immunocompromised.

Canuto said he did everything to stay safe in the pandemic, including getting vaccinated.

“In my case they tested antibodies and I tested negative after both shots,” said Canuto.

The Akron native explained doctors instructed him to continue living life as if he isn’t vaccinated, although he is indeed fully vaccinated.

According to doctors at Johns Hopkins University, immunocompromised people like Canuto are 485 times more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 and 82 times more likely to contract a COVID-19 breakthrough case.

In the past week, Canuto shared his story with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel in Washington and urged them to a recommend a third booster.

“I want that chance, even if I don’t have a full response,” said Canuto. “I’m hoping that if I do get sick, I’m not going to go on a ventilator and get severely ill."

Dr. Amy Edwards is a transplant and infectious disease physician at University Hospital. News 5 asked Edwards if a booster shot would be beneficial for immunocompromised individuals.

“It’s kind of a complicated question and its really going to depend on the nature of the person’s individual immune deficiency," said Edwards.

The CDC is still reviewing data and conducting studies before making a recommendation and Canuto just hopes the scientists keep people like him in mind.

“I’m really lucky to be alive, I really savor the life that I have,” said Canuto. “But I wish that I could live a fuller life and I don’t know when that is going to happen."

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