Third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are available locally for those with immunocompromised conditions, said pharmacist Kevin Atkins of Atkins Pharmacy in Marble Falls, adding that eligible people just have to “come in” and get it.
“No documentation of their condition is required,” he said. “(It’s) based on the honor system.”
People should check with their pharmacy or health care provider about what they require, if anything, for a third dose.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration anticipate offering boosters to the general population starting the week of Sept. 20. At this point, the CDC and FDA are recommending booster shots no sooner than eight months after a person received their second dose of the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine, which just received full FDA approval, or the Moderna vaccine.
“At that time (September), 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,” according to a joint statement from federal health officials and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “We should also begin efforts to deliver booster shots to residents in long-term care facilities at that time, given the distribution of vaccines to this population earlier in the vaccine rollout and the continued increased risk that COVID-19 poses to them.”
Currently, the plan for the booster, if it’s authorized, doesn’t expand to those who got Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose Janssen vaccine, which wasn’t available until March 2021 in the United States. Health officials are still gathering data on it, though they expect the need for a booster will exist.
Health officials pointed out that a third-dose recommendation and the potential booster are two different things.
Third doses at this stage are “specifically for those on anti-rejection medicines for organ replacements, those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, and individuals with high-risk immunodeficiency conditions,” said Dr. Jack Franklin, the Llano County local health authority.
Those who should get a third dose include anyone who has:
- been receiving cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- received an organ transplant and is taking medicine to suppress their immune system
- received a stem cell transplant within the past two years or is taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency, such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome
- an advanced or untreated HIV infection
- been receiving treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that might suppress their immune response
The CDC directs people to check with their health care providers on whether they could benefit from a third dose due to their medical condition.
When getting a third dose, people should get the same vaccine they received in the first series, either the Moderna or Comirnaty (Pfizer). Currently, the CDC isn’t recommending an additional dose for immunocompromised individuals who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, citing not enough data at this time to make such a decision.
Whether a third dose or possible booster, it doesn’t matter if people haven’t received their first COVID-19 vaccination, officials pointed out. Baylor Scott & White Health officials encourage people who haven’t received their initial vaccination to do so now.
“Again, we want to stress the importance of receiving a first and second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine if you have not already done so,” according to a statement from the health care provider. “The overwhelming majority of the patients we are treating with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. We urge the community to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
Several pharmacies, including Atkins Pharmacy, Walgreens, H-E-B, Walmart, CVS, and Llano’s Corner Drug and Health Mart, offer COVID-19 vaccinations. Baylor Scott & White Health offers vaccinations on Thursdays. People can check with their health care provider to see if they are administering vaccinations.
Several vaccination clinics are coming up in Burnet County.