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Looking for a boost? What we know about the COVID-19 booster

Looking for a boost? What we know about the COVID-19 booster

You may have heard the news about a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the works for people in the U.S.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the emergency use authorizations for both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to include an additional dose for certain immunocompromised people. FDA says this group of people are particularly at risk for severe disease, especially as much of the U.S. experiences a surge in COVID-19 infections. 

Who is immunocompromised?

The Centers for Disease Control is recommending that moderately to severe immunocompromised people receive an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes:

  • People receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • People who've received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • People who've 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

Talk to your healthcare provider about your medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long after getting my initial COVID-19 vaccines can I get an additional dose?

CDC recommends the additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine be administered at least four weeks after a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Can you mix and match the vaccines?

For people who received either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine series, a third dose of the same mRNA vaccine should be used. A person should not receive more than three mRNA vaccine doses. If the mRNA vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available or is unknown, either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered.

What should immunocompromised people who received the J&J/Janssen vaccine do?

The FDA’s recent EUA amendment only applies to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, as does CDC’s recommendation.

Emerging data have demonstrated that immunocompromised people who have low or no protection following two doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may have an improved response after an additional dose of the same vaccine. There is not enough data at this time to determine whether immunocompromised people who received the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine also have an improved antibody response following an additional dose of the same vaccine.

What are the benefits of people receiving an additional vaccine dose?

CDC recommends the additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine be administered at least four weeks (28 days) after a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

What are the risks of vaccinating individuals with an additional dose?

There is limited information about the risks of receiving an additional dose of vaccine, and the safety, efficacy, and benefit of additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine in immunocompromised people continues to be evaluated. So far, reactions reported after the third mRNA dose were similar to that of the two-dose series: fatigue and pain at injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most symptoms were mild to moderate.

However, as with the two-dose series, serious side effects are rare, but may occur.

Need a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine? 

The vaccine is available at over 1,400 providers across Louisiana, including LCMC Health and its six member hospitals.

Across the state, vaccine providers include national and independent pharmacies, public health providers, clinics and physician offices, hospitals and others.

For vaccine information or to schedule an appointment with a local provider, call 855-453-0774 (statewide number) or 504.290.5200 (LCMC Health vaccine hotline).