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Additional COVID-19 Vaccine Dose for Immunocompromised People

senior man receiving a vaccine

The CDC is now recommending that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines should receive an additional, third dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. It’s important to note that this third dose recommendation applies to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines but not to the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J) vaccine. If you received a J&J vaccine it is not recommended you get any additional doses at this time. 

 

Who Is Considered Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised?

 

Making up 3% of the adult population, people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness. The CDC has found that this group of people benefit from an additional dose to make sure they have enough protection against COVID-19 and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.

 

Moderately to severely immunocompromised people include those who have: 

 

  • Been 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

 

If you are immunocompromised, we recommend talking with your healthcare provider about your medical condition, and whether getting an additional, third dose is appropriate.

 

Common Additional Dose Questions and Answers 

 

When should I get my third dose if I am immunocompromised?

  • The CDC recommends the third dose should be administered at least four weeks (28 days) after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. It’s ok to receive other vaccinations (like the Flu Shot) at the same time as a 3rd dose.. 

 

Can vaccines be mixed and matched?

  • The CDC recommends that the third dose should be the same as the initial vaccine you received. But if the vaccine you got for the first two doses is not available or is unknown, either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be used.

 

Why wasn’t an additional dose of the J&J (Janssen) vaccine recommended?

  • At this time, the third dose recommendation only applies to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. More data is being collected to determine whether immunocompromised people who received the J&J (Janssen) vaccine will also have an improved antibody response following an additional dose of the same vaccine. 

 

What are the age restrictions for receiving a third dose?

  • The same age restrictions (12+ for Pfizer, 18+ for Moderna) that apply to the first two doses apply to the third dose.

 

Do pregnant people count as immunocompromised? 

  • No. At this time, only the specified immunocompromised conditions qualify someone for an additional dose. 

 

Do diabetic people qualify for an additional dose? 

  • No. At this time, only the specified immunocompromised conditions qualify someone for an additional dose. 

 

A Third Dose For All 

 

The CDC does not yet recommend additional doses or booster shots for any other group of people at this time. More data and research are needed to determine if other groups of people will also have an improved antibody response from a third dose. 

 

Keep Up the Prevention Measures

 

Even with a third dose, mask-wearing and social distancing are recommended to protect yourself and your community. If you don’t fall into this category who qualify for a third dose, getting vaccinated is the best way to help keep this group protected. 

 

Schedule Your First, Second, or Third Vaccine Dose Now

To schedule a COVID-19 appointment, visit our COVID-19 vaccine page.