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COVID-19 booster shots recommended for the immunocompromised

Aug 19, 2021

A woman gives a thumbs up after receiving a vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose. This recommendation arises from recently published data showing a lower vaccine response in patients with reduced immune function who received the full two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The third vaccine dose has been shown to offer increased protection against COVID-19.

At this time, this recommendation does not apply to patients who received the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine or other COVID vaccine manufacturers. The recommendation applies to patients over the age of 12 years (Pfizer) or 18 years (Moderna).

The recommendation for a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is for patients who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for solid 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 last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system or to treat for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency, such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome or aplastic anemia
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response due to therapy for blood cancers or for autoimmune diseases

If you have one of these conditions, ask your health care provider if you should receive a third dose of vaccine. If you are a VCU Health patient, you can schedule your booster shot with your VCU Health provider.

The booster shot should be given no sooner than 28 days from the completed second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The vaccine should be of the same manufacturer as the initial vaccine received, if possible. That means if you originally received the Pfizer vaccine, you should receive the Pfizer booster. If you received the Moderna vaccine, you should receive the Moderna booster, if possible.

The CDC also recommended a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines “for all Americans beginning the week of September 20 and starting 8 months after an individual’s second dose. At that time, the individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many health care providers, nursing home residents and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster.”

For more information

To learn more, check out this VCU Health Q&A about booster shots for the immunocompromised and this Q&A from VCU Health about why booster shots are needed to defend against COVID-19.

Continue to watch for updated guidance from the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health. Also check the VCU Health vaccine website. For a variety of news and information on COVID-19 and how VCU Health is keeping patients safe, please visit the VCU Health COVID-19 News Center.

References:
CDC Recommendations on COVID Booster Dosing
Joint Statement from HHS Public Health and Medical Experts on COVID-19 Booster Shots

Fact sheets:
Pfizer: https://www.fda.gov/media/144414/download
Moderna: https://www.fda.gov/media/144638/download

This information is accurate as of August 19, 2021.

Written by: Massey Communications

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