Immunocompromised? You Might Need Another Dose of COVID Vaccine
Aug 13, 2021

NOTE: A version of this content originally appeared in Vaccinate Your Family’s Immunization Alerts eNewsletter, sent out on Friday, August 13, 2021. Stay up to date on the latest vaccine news by subscribing here.

The CDC’s expert advisory committee voted today to recommend a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for certain immunocompromised people 12 years of age and older. The vote followed FDA’s expanded emergency use authorization for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Anyone who is considered moderately to severely immunocompromised, and who received a two-dose series of the mRNA vaccines, should receive a third dose at least 28 days after their second dose.

The recommendation does not include additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine or booster doses for people who are not immunocompromised. Further research is underway to determine if either of these groups also requires a “booster” dose.

Those with weakened immune systems are more likely to get seriously sick with COVID-19, spread the virus to others in their home, and experience “breakthrough” cases even after getting vaccinated. Adding a third dose for immunocompromised people could help better protect them.   

Who Should Get a Third Dose?

Those who qualify for the third dose include people 12 years of age and older who have:

  • Active or recent treatment for cancer (solid tumor and hematologic malignancies)
  • Solid-organ or recent hematopoietic stem cell transplant
  • Severe primary immunodeficiency
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory
  • Chronic medical conditions such as asplenia and chronic renal disease that may be associated with varying degrees of immune deficit.

If you’re considered to be moderately or severely immunocompromised and you’ve been vaccinated with the two-dose series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you should get a third dose of whichever vaccine you originally received.

Fully vaccinated people with healthy immune systems do not need another dose of COVID vaccine at this time. If you aren’t sure whether you qualify for a third dose, please talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.  

Have you read:

In addition to a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, immunocompromised people should continue to take precautions such as wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and keeping their physical distance from people they don’t live with. Likewise, everyone around immunocompromised people should get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect their loved ones.  

If you’d like to see what research has been done to support the recommendation, check out the meeting slides here. The CDC is also expected to update its clinical guidance on COVID-19 vaccines to include more details later today.  

For more information about COVID vaccines in general, check out Vaccinate Your Family’s website

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