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Additional COVID-19 shot now available for immuno-compromised individuals

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 4:58 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2021 at 5:55 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Americans at high risk from COVID-19 because of severely weakened immune systems are now allowed to get a third vaccination in hopes of better protection, a policy change endorsed Friday by influential government advisers.

The Food and Drug Administration ruled that transplant recipients and other similarly immune-compromised patients can get a third dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. But the decision offers an extra dose only to those high-risk groups — not the general public.

Archie Keyser says he had no apprehension about getting the third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

“I feel confident. Vaccines save lives, period,” says Archie Keyser.

These patients have been clamoring for months for better protection, some of them traveling across state lines or lying to get another dose. About 1.1 million people already have gotten at least a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines on their own, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed, although it’s not clear how many did so because they had weakened immune systems.

“Many of the people that have gotten their shots in January and February are coming back to get a third shot,” says NOLA Discount Pharmacy Pharmacist Khanh Tran. “Anybody that has active cancer, HIV, and even high dose steroids is considered immune-compromised. We are giving those patients a third shot.”

“And that is given 28 days after the last shot. There is not enough data, at the present time, to determine whether immune-compromised patients should get another dose of the J & J vaccine,” says Ochsner Health, Dr. Sandra Kemmerly.

CONTINUING COVERAGE

The additional shot is to boost a person’s immunity. Ochsner’s Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention, Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, says the reported side effects from the third dose have been mild, usually arm pain, fatigue, and low-grade fever.

“We also know that a large proportion of our hospitalized breakthrough cases have been in those that are immune-compromised,” Dr. Baumgarten says.

Still, she says the vaccine is well-scrutinized and the side effects are being monitored.

Pharmacies around the state, as well as hospitals, are now offering the third dose. To get it, you should call for an appointment and you’ll have to self-attest to your condition, filling out a form before receiving the shot.

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