Immunocompromised individuals approved for additional COVID-19 shot

An additional shot differs from a booster shot. There is not yet an established need or timeline for a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose. 

The Federal Drug Administration approved Friday, Aug. 13 the administration of an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for certain immunocompromised individuals who received either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

Data surrounding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is insufficient, so it is not yet approved for an additional dose, according to an FDA release.

“Today’s action allows doctors to boost immunity in certain immunocompromised individuals who need extra protection from COVID-19,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. stated in a Friday release. “As we’ve previously stated, other individuals who are fully vaccinated are adequately protected and do not need an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine at this time.”

According to the FDA, immunocompromised individuals who are eligible for a third shot of either Pfizer or Moderna include solid organ transplant recipients or those who are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise such as:

  • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
  • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within two years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (i.e. DiGeorge, Wiskott-Aldrich syndromes)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e. ≥20 mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, TNF (tumor necrosis factor) blockers and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory

Those who qualify for an additional shot are strongly encouraged to get the same vaccine as their primary series, said Ashley Wiertzema, Wilkin County Public Health. They can receive a third dose as soon as 28 days after the second dose of their primary vaccine series.

“If the same vaccine is not available, it is acceptable to use the other vaccine, but it is strongly recommended that you use the same vaccine you used in the initial two-dose series,” she said.

The Moderna vaccine can be administered to those aged 18 and older, and the Pfizer vaccine can be administered to those aged 12 and older.

Individuals in Richland and Wilkin counties who qualify should contact their health care provider to discuss the timing of their additional shot.

An additional shot differs from a booster shot, said Pat Giese, health services manager of the Richland County Department of Health.

An additional shot is administered when the initial immune response following a primary vaccine series is likely insufficient. A booster shot is administered when the initial sufficient immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have decreased over time. There is not yet an established need or timeline for a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose, Giese said.

Richland County, North Dakota, has five active COVID-19 cases and Wilkin County, Minnesota has four as of Monday morning, Aug. 16.

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