Coronavirus Updates

Do you need an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

West Virginia

FILE – In this March 29, 2021 file photo, a worker readies syringes with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Metairie, La. Even people who have recovered from COVID-19 are urged to get vaccinated to avoid reinfection, especially amid the threat of the extra-contagious delta variant — and there’s growing evidence the shots offer those survivors bonus protection against mutants.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health says some immunocompromised people may need an additional dose of a COVID-19 vaccine following the CDC’s recent recommendation.

The bureau says these doses are not considered boosters but will help increase protection against the virus for those who have compromised immune systems. According to the DHHR, the bureau issued a health alert on Aug. 13 to health providers and its other partners recommending an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for immunocompromised individuals.

According to the alert, studies show that some immunocompromised people have had a reduced immune response following the initial two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines compared to those who do not have compromised immune systems. Health experts say they believe a third dose may enhance immune response.

The DHHR says the recommendation does not apply to the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“For people with moderate to severe immune compromise due to a medical condition or receipt of immunosuppressive medications or treatments, the potential to increase immune response coupled with an acceptable safety profile, support the recommendation for an additional mRNA vaccine dose after an initial 2-dose primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series,” the alert states.

The WV DHHR’s guidance follows this recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ interim recommendation to use the additional dose. They say the additional dose should be the same vaccine the person received in the first two doses, however, if that vaccine is not available, the “other mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave their recommendation saying the additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine be administered four weeks after a person’s second dose at the earliest. They also say people should not receive more than a total of three doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

The following is a specific list from the WV DHHR of the of eligible conditions for the third dose:

  • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
  • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
  • Moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency (examples including DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory.

The CDC also has a full list of eligible conditions available on its website.

“We highly encourage those who are immunocompromised to talk to their healthcare provider or their local health department about their medical conditions to see if an additional dose is right for them,” said Dr. Ayne Amjad, State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “We also continue to encourage all eligible West Virginians to choose to get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and are our best tool to fight this pandemic.” 

The WV DHHR says immunocompromised individuals do not need to provide proof of their condition to receive a third dose but recommends they speak to their health care provider before getting the third dose.

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