Press Release - FDA Approves Third Dose of Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Moderate to Severely Immunocompromised Individuals
On August 12, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for both the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for the use of an additional dose in certain immunocompromised individuals, specifically, solid organ transplant recipients or those who are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise. This action was taken because studies indicate that some immunocompromised people do not build the same level of immunity after vaccination. Additional small studies demonstrated that fully vaccinated immunocompromised individuals have accounted for a large proportion of hospitalized post-vaccination cases and that immunocompromised people are more likely to transmit the virus to household contacts.
Currently, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose. This includes people 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, and
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response.
Individuals who believe they have moderate to severe immunosuppression and would like to receive a third dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine can:
- Contact their medical provider to see if their provider is offering COVID-19 vaccines.
- Visit their local pharmacy. Many pharmacies are offering vaccinations without an appointment.
- Register for an appointment at a community vaccination site. A list of vaccination sites is available on the Monterey County website at www.mcvaccinate.com. Alternatively, visit www.myturn.ca.gov to find a vaccination site.
Currently, there are no data to support the use of an additional mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose after a primary Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in immunocompromised people. The EUA only applies to immunocompromised people who received Pfizer or Moderna. Age limits under the updated EUA remain the same (12+ years for Pfizer, 18+ years for Moderna).
Vaccine service providers may have different procedures for offering a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. You may be asked to sign or state that you meet the criteria outlined above. Other vaccine service providers may require a note from your medical provider. Vaccine clinics sponsored by the Monterey County Health Department’s Public Health Bureau will only require that people state that they meet the CDC’s criteria for a third dose.
Because individuals with a compromised immune system still may not respond to the vaccine after a third dose as well as individuals with a strong immune system, immunocompromised individuals should utilize multiple strategies to reduce their risk of becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus. To keep yourself, your family, friends and neighbors, and the entire community safe, the Monterey County Health Department continues to urge the public and businesses to continue to follow these core principles:
- Get vaccinated and encourage others to get vaccinated. All federally authorized vaccines work well and will help keep you, your family, and your friends healthy.
- Move activities outdoors. Outdoor activities pose less risk than indoor activities.
- Follow California Department of Public Health Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings (https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/guidance-for-face-coverings.aspx). Unvaccinated people, including children ages 2 to 11 years old, should continue to wear a face covering in public settings and businesses. Vaccinated people should also wear a face covering on public transit, in schools and daycare centers, in health care facilities, and in congregate living settings like jails, shelters, and cooling centers.
- Maintain distance from others. Social distancing from those who do not live with you is effective at keeping the coronavirus away.
- Avoid crowds. The fewer people you encounter and the fewer interactions you have, the lower the chance the virus will spread.
- Wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
For more information on COVID-19 or to find a vaccination or testing site near you, please visit the Monterey County Health Department’s website (www.montereycountycovid19.com), follow the Health Department on Twitter (@mchdpio) and Facebook (@mtyhd), or call 2-1-1.