RICHMOND — On Friday, August 13, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has announced that a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be provided to Virginia residents who are immunocompromised.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated vaccination guidelines that recommends a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines for persons who have significantly compromised immune systems.
“This is important additional protection for people who have impaired immune systems,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “As COVID-19 cases rise across Virginia and the country, everyone who is eligible should get appropriately vaccinated as soon as they can.”
The VDH states that studies have shown that those who have compromised immune systems may have a weak response to the standard COVID-19 vaccine regiment. Therefore, a third dose of this vaccine may be needed to help strengthen the immunity of those who are otherwise compromised.
While this is applicable to those who have received the standard two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved a second dose of the standard single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
It is important to note that the third dose of the vaccine should come from the same manufacturer as the previous two doses. For example, if a person received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the third dose should also be from Pfizer-BioNTech.
The FDA also advises that people who are considered immunocompromised wait at least 28 days between their second and third dose of the vaccine.
A person is considered immunocompromised when they have deficiencies due to certain medical conditions that weakens their immune system. Therefore, their immune system, even after receiving both doses of the aforementioned vaccines, is still not protected enough against the COVID-19 virus.
It is recommended that members of this population take additional precautions during the pandemic to include masking, maintaining social distancing protocols, and other measures as recommended by a person’s healthcare provider.
VDH reports that approximately 123,322 (or 3 percent) of Virginians are considered immunocompromised and it is recommended that they seek a third dose of the vaccine.
As of the publication of this article, any person ages 12 years and older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. To learn more or to schedule an appointment to receive a vaccine, visit the website for Vaccinate Virginia or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682). TTY users can call 7-1-1.