FDA approves booster shot for immunocompromised, local health experts explain

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Transplant recipients and others with weakened immune systems can now get an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This applies only to Moderna and Pfizer.

The FDA approved it for emergency use only in this population.

The FDA definition for this category specifies, “solid organ transplant recipients or those who are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise.”

Dr. Angela Branche, infectious disease specialist with URMC says more clarification is needed.

“We can all agree the FDA guidance is quite vague,” she said.

The CDC advisory council is working to create their own recommendations for who else can fall in this category.

“It’s what we call a heterologous group, there’s so many different situations and things that could compromise an immune system.”

Dr. William Valenti with Trillium Health says a vast majority of his patients will likely qualify, ranging from cancer patients, to those living with HIV.

And there’s definitely interest.

“My patients have been asking me about boosters for six months,” he said. “I think it makes a lot of sense and I think we should also be prepared for a recommendation for the rest of us.”

But Zach Garafalo with Center for Disability Rights says, not so fast. While it’s great to move the ball forward, he says other efforts like combatting vaccine hesitancy should be front and center.

“We still have a large population reluctant to get the vaccine, and so any initiative needs to continue to focus on that portion of the population,” said Garafalo. “So that’s great we want to make sure people in congregate settings have a robust immune response. But it’s equally important officials and medical providers continue to work with patients so they can make informed decisions.”

According to the FDA, the booster shot would come at least 28 days following the two-dose regimen.

If you’re confused whether you fall in this category or now, experts urge you have a conversation with their doctor while CDC recommendations are being formulated.

As for a booster for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, health leaders say we can expect more information to come in the next few months.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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