Immunocompromised residents eligible for third vaccine dose

Good Samaritan Society residents who are immunocompromised can get a third dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

The third dose recommendation comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The goal is to increase immunity against COVID-19 in people who have less robust responses to vaccines and illness.

“For those immunocompromised folks, the recommendation is that anybody getting COVID vaccine from here on out and anyone from the past, to say you’re completely done, you need a third dose. An immune system that isn’t quite as vigorous needs to see it that third time before it registers and it takes,” says Society Chief Medical Officer Gregory Johnson, M.D.

Dr. Johnson adds families and leaders at long-term care centers need to start identifying who is eligible for the additional dose.

“Those would be people who have had transplants many times, heart transplants, liver transplants, big organ transplants who are on medications that are known to dial down the intensity of their immune system. There are diseases that go after specifically the immune system. That’s a group as well,” Dr. Johnson says.

Booster shots now available

The CDC and FDA have also authorized COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for everyone ages 18 and older. Boosters are available for the Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines.

Third doses are recommended for people with compromised immune systems who may not have gotten full protection from the first two doses. Booster shots restore an immune response that has decreased over time and are available to people without immune system disorders.

Boosters should be scheduled at least six months after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and two months after the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.

Anyone can receive any vaccine as a booster, no matter what they received for their initial doses. 

Immunocompromised people who received the third dose are still eligible for a booster dose at least six months after their last dose. 

Additional vaccine doses 'not uncommon'

When it comes to vaccines, historically, immunocompromised people often get an additional shot.

“It’s not uncommon for people with a less robust immune system to need a different dosing regimen, either an extra dose or different spacing between the doses. We see that in some pneumonia and meningitis vaccines,” Dr. Johnson says.

The third dose needs to be given at least 28 days after the second dose. Many Society residents were vaccinated in early 2021.

“If you’re getting the third dose, you’d be getting it 28 days after your second dose. If that was a long time ago, you still just get it now. It’s still going to do its job. The other thing to know is that this third dose recommendation applies to Pfizer and Moderna. It doesn’t apply to Janssen (J&J),” Dr. Johnson says.

'We're here for you'

While not required, Dr. Johnson says you should sign up for the same vaccine you received the first and second time.

“If you started with Pfizer, we probably want to finish it out with Pfizer. If you started with Moderna, you want to finish with Moderna,” Dr. Johnson says.

Once you know you or your loved one is eligible for the third dose, contact the Good Samaritan Society or your primary physician.

“We’re here for you. We have vaccines on hand and just raise your hand, speak to your facility and say, ‘I think I need that third dose,’ or your primary care physician,” Dr. Johnson says.

Information in this article was accurate when it was posted. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, scientific understanding and guidelines may have changed since the original publication date. Read more about the COVID-19 vaccines.

The Good Samaritan Society requires masking in its locations. Anyone shown without a mask was either recorded prior to the masking requirement or recorded in a non-patient care area where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

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