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Gimme Three Shots: Booster Vaccines

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Updates from both the Allegany County Health Department and the federal government spoke to the rollout of a third vaccine to combat Covid-19. Locally, the county only addressed the need to provide an additional vaccine to ‘certain immuno-compromised individuals.’ In national news,  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced plans to provide booster shots for two of the three vaccines currently under emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration

This what emerged from Allegany County today:

News Release: FDA Authorizes Additional Vaccine Dose for Certain Immune Compromised Individuals

The FDA has recently authorized an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine for certain immune compromised individuals. This amendment applies only to Moderna and Pfizer vaccine, not Johnson & Johnson. The additional dose should be administered at least 28 days after the completion of the primary two dose series. People with immunocompromised conditions include:

  • Active or recent treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
  • Receipt of solid-organ or recent hematopoietic stem cell transplants
  • Severe primary immunodeficiency including asplenia and renal disease
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory

The FDA and CDC authorized the additional third dose because immunocompromised people are more likely to have breakthrough cases, accounting for 44 percent of hospitalized breakthrough cases in the US. Lower vaccine effectiveness was another reason with 59-72 percent effectiveness among immunocompromised people vs. 90-94 percent among non-immune compromised people after the second dose.

Emerging data suggests that an additional dose will enhance overall vaccine effectiveness in immune compromised individuals. This is different from a booster dose, which is needed when the initial vaccine series is effective, but immunity may wane over time. The FDA and CDC have not yet established a timeline for a COVID-19 booster shot and information on that will be coming soon.

For more information regarding whether or not you are immunocompromised, please speak with your Primary Care Physician or search online for “general best practices for vaccination of people with altered immunocompetence.” The Allegany County Department of Health will release more information when we have vaccination clinics available for the additional third dose for immunocompromised individuals. Get Vaccinated!

In Washington D.C., the nations top doctors partnered with the Health and Human Services Department, released a statement that explains the decision to roll out booster shots beginning this year:

“The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. Recognizing that many vaccines are associated with a reduction in protection over time, and acknowledging that additional vaccine doses could be needed to provide long lasting protection, we have been analyzing the scientific data closely from the United States and around the world to understand how long this protection will last and how we might maximize this protection. The available data make very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination, and in association with the dominance of the Delta variant, we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout. For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.

“We have developed a plan to begin offering these booster shots this fall subject to FDA conducting an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issuing booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the evidence. We are prepared to offer booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20 and starting 8 months after an individual’s second dose. At that time, the individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many health care providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster. We would also begin efforts to deliver booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities at that time, given the distribution of vaccines to this population early in the vaccine rollout and the continued increased risk that COVID-19 poses to them.

“We also anticipate booster shots will likely be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. Administration of the J&J vaccine did not begin in the U.S. until March 2021, and we expect more data on J&J in the next few weeks. With those data in hand, we will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster shots as well.

“Our top priority remains staying ahead of the virus and protecting the American people from COVID-19 with safe, effective, and long-lasting vaccines especially in the context of a constantly changing virus and epidemiologic landscape. We will continue to follow the science on a daily basis, and we are prepared to modify this plan should new data emerge that requires it.

“We also want to emphasize the ongoing urgency of vaccinating the unvaccinated in the U.S. and around the world. Nearly all the cases of severe disease, hospitalization, and death continue to occur among those not yet vaccinated at all. We will continue to ramp up efforts to increase vaccinations here at home and to ensure people have accurate information about vaccines from trusted sources. We will also continue to expand our efforts to increase the supply of vaccines for other countries, building further on the more than 600 million doses we have already committed to donate globally.”

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