Why 3rd dose of COVID vaccine is needed for immunocompromised

Booster shot may be available to everyone soon

The Biden Administration is expected to recommend COVID-19 booster shots for most Americans, but a number of health experts say it may be jumping the gun.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) for people who have a weakened immune system.

“If you’re receiving medicines that hold your immune system down, you’re less likely to get the full benefit from those vaccines, or it’s just not going to last as long,” said Dr. Frank Esper, an infectious disease specialist with Cleveland Clinic.

People eligible for an additional COVID-19 shot are those who are considered moderately to severely immunocompromised. This includes people with serious immunodeficiency conditions, and people on medications, like high-dose corticosteroids, that may suppress the immune system.

The CDC does not currently recommend boosters for people outside of this group, although sources said the Biden administration is pushing the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the third shot for everyone, age 12 and up.

“If we start seeing more and more of those people becoming infected again, even if they’re not very sick, we may need to talk about a booster dose for a larger group of people to maintain protection and limit spread,” Esper said. “Right now, we’re really focused on the people who are most at risk of getting really, really sick and those are the highly immune-suppressed people.”

If you are considered immunocompromised or have questions about whether you’re eligible for a third dose, Esper said it’s best to call your healthcare provider.