Immunocompromised? The CDC says it might be time to get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccine bottles compared during Juneau’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Centennial Hall on Jan. 15, 2021, in Juneau. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says immunocompromised people should get a third “booster” dose of the vaccine. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has paved the way for vulnerable Alaskans to get a third “booster” dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The CDC said Friday that people who got the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could get a third dose. The idea is to help prevent serious infections in people with weakened immune systems.  

In a prepared statement, CDC director Rochelle Walensky called it an “important step in ensuring everyone, including those most vulnerable to COVID-19, can get as much protection as possible from the COVID-19 vaccination.”

About 3% of the U.S. adult population is at risk for serious, prolonged illness, according to CDC data. That’s close to 10 million people. 

Mila Cosgrove, Juneau’s incident commander, said given that it’s a fairly narrow slice of the population, she’s not worried about Juneau’s vaccine supply. 

So, who should take a third dose? The CDC says people who meet the following conditions: 

  • 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 last 2 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

The Moderna vaccine is approved for people 18 or older.  The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people 12 or older. And, the CDC recommends getting a booster dose of the vaccine four weeks after the second dose.  

The agency also says that people should try to get a third shot of whatever their first round of shots was. But, if that’s not available, an additional dose with another vaccine is OK. 

Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration also authorized an additional dose of certain vaccines. 

But, because there isn’t enough data, the FDA didn’t extend its authorization to include the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  

Anyone 12 years old or older is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. In Juneau, call 907-586-6000 or use the city’s website to make an appointment. 

Rashah McChesney

Daily News Editor

I help the newsroom establish daily news priorities and do hands-on editing to ensure a steady stream of breaking and enterprise news for a local and regional audience.

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