Third dose of COVID-19 vaccine recommended

Montana health care providers can now offer third doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to certain immunocompromised individuals following new recently announced federal recommendations. Third doses are available in Missoula County through the Missoula City-County Health Department but only to those with increased health risks, not to the general public.

“This is great news because we know the impact COVID-19 has with high-risk groups,” DPHHS Director Adam Meier said. “The updated recommendations will ensure those most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 can get as much protection as possible.”

Meier said while authorized vaccines have proven to be more than 90% effective in protecting against most variants, emerging data suggest people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity compared to people who are not immunocompromised.

People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised include those who have:

• Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or blood cancers.

• Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.

• Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking related 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 one’s immune response.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that around 3% of those eligible for vaccination are in these groups, which is an estimated 22,000 Montanans.

Nationally, fully vaccinated immunocompromised people have accounted for a large proportion of hospitalized breakthrough cases (40-44%). Immunocompromised people who are infected with COVID-19 are also more likely to transmit the virus to household contacts.

Additional doses should be administered at least four weeks after a person receives their second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. The updated guidance on the third dose does not apply to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

More information about the updated recommendations is available on the CDC website at .


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