COVID vaccines: Who should get a third dose?

Last week the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved third doses of the mRNA coronavirus vaccines for people who are immunocompromised and already received two doses of their the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

The third dose is recommended to be received at least 28 days following the second dose, according to the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners, Inc.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said the reason for the additional shot is to strengthen the immune response when a person’s reaction to the two-dose vaccine is likely to be insufficient, according to the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners, Inc. The additional dose is not recommended for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

It’s estimated fewer than 3% of Ohioans will qualify for the third dose of the vaccine.

According to the according to the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners, Inc., people with the following conditions qualify for the additional shot:

  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (20 milligrams or more of prednisone daily or an equivalent) including:
    • Alkylating agents
    • Antimetabolites
    • Cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive
    • transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs
    • Tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers
    • Other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Moderate or severe immunodeficiency such as DiGeorge or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome
  • Received a CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant and are within two years of transplant or taking immunosuppression therapy
  • Received a solid-organ transplant and are presently taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • Undergoing cancer treatment – solid tumors and hematologic malignancies

Anyone who requests a third dose will be informed of the qualifying conditions and will attest to their own eligibility, according to the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners, Inc. They should contact their primary care provider to discuss their situation and possibly schedule an appointment.

While U.S. health officials announced a plan this week for all adults to start receiving third doses next month, the FDC and CDC ACIP have yet to review the plan and evaluate its safety.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the third doses will be the same vaccine as the first two doses. However, he said there major pharmaceutical companies are studying “augmented boosters” aimed at targeting COVID-19 variants, including delta. That research and testing would have to go through a process similar to what the first Moderna and Pfizer vaccines went through before they could be approved.

Health officials continue to encourage those who are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and for everyone to wear face masks while indoors in public spaces or where social distancing isn’t possible.

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