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Third COVID-19 vaccine dose recommended for those with compromised immune systems

  • Jacqueline Coll gives the COVID-19 vaccine to Donna Infante as part of the first round of vaccinations for frontline health care workers at Monadnock Community Hospital Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/7/2021 7:46:31 AM

The Center for Disease Control is recommending individuals with certain conditions that may impact their immune system, including some forms of cancer, receive a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, if they received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations.

In August, the Center for Disease Control announced that people who may have not received a robust immune response to the administered two doses may benefit from an additional round of the vaccination. The people who are being encouraged to receive an additional dose are those who currently have or were treated in the last six months for blood cancers, those who have had treatments with B-cell depleting drugs such as rituximab or Rituxan in the last year, those who have had a stem cell transplant, those who have been treated for solid tumors with chemotherapy or immunotherapy within the last six months.

Those who qualify are recommended to get the third dose 28 days or later than their last dose of the vaccination.

Those who received the Johnson & Johnson version of the vaccine are not being recommended for an additional dose at this time.

Dr. Daniel Perli, the chief medical officer of Monadnock Community Hospital, advised that the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines on who should and shouldn’t receive a third dose isn’t comprehensive, and those who have questions about whether they qualify should speak with their physician or care team.

“The state has recommended [Monadnock Community Hospital] send out notices to our patients who qualify. But if you have a question, call your primary care doctor, and they should be able to clearly tell you whether to get the third dose.”

Studies show those who have compromised immune systems don’t create as strong a defense as healthy people when receiving vaccinations. Perli said the additional dose helps bolster their immune response.

However, Perli said, while he encouraged patients to speak to their doctor about whether they should receive a third dose, there is no requirement currently for a prescription or written recommendation from a doctor to receive a third dose.

While Monadnock Community Hospital has offered vaccination clinics on their campus, they currently do not provide COVID-19 vaccinations in their primary care patient offices, according to MCH’s Vice President of Philanthropy and Community Relations Laura Gingras. The hospital is currently applying for the licenses needed to provide them to patients directly.

Gingras said the hospital currently does not plan to hold vaccination clinics during the month of September, but may have additional vaccination clinics this fall.

Gingras said MCH strongly recommends those who have not completed their original rounds of vaccinations still do so, and continue to take precautions against spreading COVID-19 such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

“We all have to remember that those who are vaccinated can still get COVID and spread COVID,” Gingras said. “But, currently, 95 percent of people requiring hospitalization are unvaccinated. They’re more likely to get sicker and need hospitalized care. With the rise of the Delta variant, we need to go back a step to our discipline of masking and social distancing. The more that we can stop the spread, the sooner we’re going to get a handle on this.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, tracking data suggests the unvaccinated are being hospitalized at much higher rates than the vaccinated, and overwhelmingly, COVID-19 related deaths are happening in the unvaccinated population. As of July, CDC studies indicated unvaccinated people were nearly five times more likely to be infected with COVID-19, and nearly 30 times as likely to be hospitalized.

The Center for Disease Control has not recommended additional doses or booster shots for any other population other than the immunocompromised at this time, but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a plan to offer COVID-19 booster shots this fall. The plan is dependent upon the Food and Drug Administration conducting an evaluation on the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may also be recommended.

To find a location to receive an additional COVID-19 vaccination, visit vaccines.gov for vaccination sites and appointments, or call 1-800-232-0233 or text your ZIP code to 438829 to find locations near you. Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination walk-ins or appointments are available.


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