The FDA and CDC authorized and recommended an additional vaccine dose for people with weakened immune systems. Someone may be immunocompromised if they have certain types of cancers, had an organ transplant, or are taking medications that suppress the immune system. Studies have shown that a third dose of the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, can help better protect these patients from COVID-19.
“Immunocompromised patients are at highest risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19, and unfortunately many did not mount an adequate immune response to their initial vaccine doses,” said Dr. Lee Harrison, professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. “The good news is that they have a good likelihood of responding favorably by producing antibodies to a third dose and becoming protected against COVID-19.”
Immunocompromised patients are eligible to receive a third dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines at least 28 days following the second dose. The third dose of the mRNA vaccines is identical to one of the original two-shot dosages. Currently, there is not enough data to determine if an additional dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is needed.
“So far, the three vaccines available in the U.S. are doing an incredible job of protecting people with healthy immune systems, ,” said Dr. Graham Snyder, medical director of Infection Prevention and Hospital Epidemiology at UPMC. “Eventually, everyone who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 will likely need further doses. This is because the impact on our immune system might wane over time. Another reason additional doses might be needed is in response to the virus changing.”
While everyone who is eligible to for the vaccines should get vaccinated, it is not the sole answer to protecting yourself from COVID-19.
“We have to pair vaccination with protections against being exposed to the virus. We must continue to mask and distance,” explained Snyder.
If you are immunocompromised and need to schedule your third dose, call 844-UPMCVAC (844-876-2822) to schedule an appointment.
If you are not immunocompromised and are eligible for the vaccine, visit http://Vaccine.UPMC.com to schedule an appointment.