Extra dose authorized for immunocompromised individuals
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are now recommending that immunocompromised individuals across the nation receive a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Late Thursday evening, the Food and Drug Administration authorized a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be given to immunocompromised patients. The move by the FDA expands the emergency use authorizations for both vaccines, allowing immunocompromised individuals to receive a third shot of the vaccine to increase immunity to the virus.
The order applies specifically to individuals who are organ transplant recipients or diagnosed with “conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise,” according to a news release from the FDA.
“The country has entered yet another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the FDA is especially cognizant that immunocompromised people are particularly at risk for severe disease. After a thorough review of the available data, the FDA determined that this small, vulnerable group may benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Vaccines,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “Today’s action allows doctors to boost immunity in certain immunocompromised individuals who need extra protection from COVID-19. 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.”
The decision comes as the delta variant gains traction in the U.S., leading to surging case rates in many areas nationwide. After reviewing recent studies, the FDA said the use of a booster shot among immunocompromised people “could increase protection in this population.”
Following Thursday’s announcement from the FDA, an advisory panel with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted unanimously to recommend a third shot of the vaccine for immunocompromised individuals on Friday. Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on the order, meaning that people can begin getting their third doses right away.
“This official CDC recommendation — which follows FDA’s decision to amend the emergency use authorizations of the vaccines — is an important step in ensuring everyone, including those most vulnerable to COVID-19, can get as much protection as possible from COVID-19 vaccination,” Dr. Walensky said in a statement.
As of Friday afternoon, officials from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department were still developing a plan for rolling out third doses of the vaccine. Suzanne Grimmesey, a public information officer with the county’s Behavior Wellness Department, told the News-Press that the department was working to determine exactly which residents the order would apply to as of Friday afternoon.
Immunocompromised individuals make up about 2.7% of the U.S. population, or around 7 million people, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This population is more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 and are at a higher risk of suffering from prolonged symptoms.
The CDC advisory committee said it should be left up to patients and doctors to decide who needs an extra dose and what the timing will be, though a booster shot is not recommended for the general population at this time.
On Friday, the CDC revealed that already, about 1 million individuals have received an additional dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, and about 90,000 have received an additional dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. No serious adverse effects were reported after administering a third dose and any potential harmful effects were minimal, the CDC said on Friday.