Wilkesboro, N.C.- On Wednesday August 18, 2021 Wilkes Health will begin offering COVID-19 booster shots to people with compromised immune systems.
On Monday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services approved the third dose for people with compromised immune systems following the Food and Drug Administration's approval last week. There are a variety of conditions that the Centers for Disease Control classify someone as "immunocompromised."
The booster shot is those who have qualifying conditions and received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 28 days ago. Health experts say there is not enough data yet to support a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC does not recommend you mix and match doses.
“The purpose of these COVID-19 booster shots is to protect and save lives in the COVID-19 pandemic by vaccinating persons who meet the criteria authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.”, said Rachel Willard, Wilkes County Health Director.
People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness. They could benefit from an additional dose to make sure they have enough protection against COVID-19, and the CDC recommends people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine after the initial 2 doses.
In order to receive a COVID-19 booster shot, you must be identified as having a compromised immune system. According to the FDA, people who are immunocompromised in a manner similar to those who have undergone solid organ transplantation have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases, and they are especially vulnerable to infections, including COVID-19. Other instances may include:
- 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
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory.
“We urge people to get their vaccination as soon as possible, please don’t wait.” Willard said. “If you are unvaccinated, you are at increased risk of getting COVID-19 and we don’t want to see anyone experience adverse outcomes due to this virus. I am very concerned with the increase in cases within our community. With a low percentage of our residents being vaccinated we will continue to see this virus impact our everyday lives. The vaccines are doing their job. They were created to help prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death and they are doing that. Please continue to wear your mask indoors regardless of vaccination status, as we know this is the best way to slow the spread of the virus.”
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is currently authorized for emergency use in individuals ages 12 and older, and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is authorized for emergency use in individuals ages 18 and older. Both vaccines are administered as a series of two shots: the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is administered three weeks apart, and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is administered one month apart.