A small group of people with weakened immune systems are now eligible for a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine a few weeks after their second dose. Meanwhile, information about when everyone might get a booster shot is still forthcoming from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
News about these two different kinds of third shots came out around the same time within recent weeks, confusing some people. Kettering Health’s vaccine clinic has received calls from many people seeking a third shot who are not eligible.
On Aug. 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially recommended that people with compromised immune systems get a third shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. This came a day after the FDA approved such use of the vaccines.
On Aug. 18, President Joe Biden’s administration announced plans to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots on Sept. 20 to all American adults who received Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least eight months ago, pending authorization from the FDA.
Zac Keene, a pharmacist with Kettering Health, said immunocompromised individuals should schedule a third dose now. If you are not immunocompromised, he said, you should wait for further instructions from the CDC and other health authorities.
“There’s a lot of confusion,” he said. “The people that are eligible may not fully understand that they are (eligible) or it’s even available.”
Mary Jo Csizma of Kettering was excited when the infusion center she receives regular treatment at told her she was eligible for a third dose. Her and her husband Joe, who is also immunocompromised, got their third shots at Kettering Health’s clinic on Wednesday.
“It gives you better protection and I wanted that,” she said. “The delta is so rampant. To be more protected is, I think, great. I think we’re very privileged to be in this country to have the vaccine so readily available. I wish everybody would get it.”
Csizma’s brother died from COVID-19, so she said it was never a question for her whether she would get the shot. The couple want to get fully vaccinated to protect themselves and their grandkids who can’t get the shot yet.
Credit: Jordan Laird
Credit: Jordan Laird
Who qualifies for a third dose now?
Immunocompromised people — those with conditions that weaken their immune systems or who are receiving treatments that suppress immunity — make up about 3% of the adult population. They are especially at risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19.
Studies show that coronavirus vaccines are less effective in these people, ranging from 59% to 72% effective compared with 90% to 94% effective among people without serious immune deficiencies. New studies suggest that an additional vaccine enhances antibody response and increases the proportion of immunocompromised patients who respond to the vaccine.
The CDC says moderately to severe immunocompromised people should receive an additional dose. This includes but is not limited to people who have:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood.
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
- Received a stem cell transplant within the past two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection.
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response.
Keene said this is not an exhaustive list and patients who are unsure about whether they qualify should talk to their doctor or other primary care provider.
When should immunocompromised people get a third dose?
Immunocompromised people who are eligible for a third coronavirus vaccine can get it at least 28 days after the first two doses.
“It’s still considered part of the primary series of vaccine,” Keene said.
Where are some places eligible people can get a third shot in the region?
Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County is giving third shots at a clinic at the Reibold Building, 117 S. Main St. Call 937-225-4550 to schedule an appointment. The clinic is open 8-11:30 a.m. and 12:30-4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Premier Health is offering third shots at CompuNet Clinical Laboratories in Beavercreek, Dayton, Middletown and Troy. Schedule an appointment online.
Kettering Health is giving third shots at a clinic at 2040 E. Dorothy Lane in Kettering Towne Center. The clinic is open 3-7 p.m. Mondays, 8 a.m.-noon Wednesdays and 8 a.m.-noon Fridays. Visit Kettering Health’s website or call 1-844-576-3627 to schedule an appointment.
When will booster shots be available for everyone?
The FDA has scheduled a meeting on coronavirus boosters, specifically the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with outside advisers for Sept. 17. The public session could bring more answers. If a booster shot is approved, it will likely be given eight months after the first series (first and second dose).
That would mean Ohioans who got vaccinated earlier in the rollout, such as health care professionals and nursing home residents, would be eligible for the booster first.
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