On Aug. 17, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be given to those who are immunocompromised (have weakened immune systems that are moderate to severe). This third – or booster – dose will help provide them ongoing protection against COVID-19.
Those who are eligible can get it now. However, they must wait at least 28 days after the second dose to receive the third dose.
Eligible people can get the third dose wherever COVID-19 vaccines are available. Examples range from physician practices and mobile units to pharmacies and grocery/retail stores. For a full list, go to vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov. You can also visit one of Prisma Health’s vaccination sites.
The first people to get this third dose will be those with weakened immune systems (moderate to severe) from certain medical treatments or conditions.
Here are some common examples, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Those people with serious or untreated HIV
Those undergoing cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy
Those taking high-dose corticosteroids, such as prednisone (at least 20 mg doses)
Those who have received organ transplants
For Pfizer vaccines, that means age 12 and above; for Moderna, eligibility starts at age 18.
Studies show that the extra dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines can boost antibodies that fight the virus tenfold – a dramatic increase. Also, protection starts to lessen over time and as new strains of the disease appear. Still, effectiveness against severe disease, hospitalization and death remains relatively high, according to the CDC.
No order or prescription is needed. The person seeking the third dose confirms that he or she is immunocompromised and therefore eligible to receive it.
No. Testing is not needed.
Yes. The third dose contains the same ingredients in the same amount for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Yes, if possible. However, if it is not possible to get the same brand name as before, the other brand is acceptable as the third dose.
People should wait at least two weeks before taking anything that suppresses the immune system.
The vaccine is free; there is no cost.
If you have it, bring identification, such as a driver’s license, and your insurance card. However, it is not necessary.
At this time, there is no data to support the use of another J&J dose. However, the FDA and CDC are working to provide guidance on this issue.