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Your Healthy Family: Why 3rd dose of MRNA COVID vaccine needed for the immunocompromised

Posted at 10:36 AM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 12:36:01-04

CLEVELAND, OHIO — The CDC now recommends a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for people who have a weakened immune system.

A Cleveland Clinic infectious disease specialist explains why those who are immunocompromised need an additional dose.

“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 Frank Esper, MD.

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.

However, at this time, the CDC does not recommend boosters for people outside of this group.

“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. 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,” said Dr. Esper.

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