(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – North Carolinians who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines can now begin receiving an additional dose to better protect themselves from COVID-19, the NC Department of Health and Human Services announced this week.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the Emergency Use Authorizations for both vaccines to allow for the use of an additional dose in some immunocompromised individuals, which was then recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Friday.
Who needs an additional COVID-19 vaccine?
Currently, CDC is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose. This includes people who have:
Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
Advanced or untreated HIV infection
Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
People should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them.
People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised make up about 3% of the adult population in the U.S., according to the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
According to the CDC, emerging data suggest some people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity after vaccination compared to people who are not immunocompromised. In addition, in small studies, fully vaccinated immunocompromised people have accounted for a large proportion of hospitalized post-vaccination cases.
“This additional dose will offer valuable protection to those who need it, especially as we face a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, NCDHHS State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer. “I encourage those who are eligible to get this additional dose. In addition, if you are not fully vaccinated, please do so now to protect yourself and others – like those who are immunocompromised – from severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.”
An additional dose of the same brand of vaccine is recommended for moderately to severely immunocompromised people at least 28 days after they’ve completed their initial two-dose series to help increase the body’s immune response. The same vaccine brand should be used unless unavailable, in which case either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can be used, NCDHHS said.
The Moderna vaccine is available to those 18 and older, while the Pfizer vaccine is available to those 12 and older.
Immunocompromised people eligible for an additional dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines should contact their health care provider or they can visit MySpot.nc.gov or call 888-675-4567 to find a vaccine location near them. Supply of vaccine in the state can accommodate providing this additional dose for immunocompromised people, NCDHHS said.
It is not recommended that immunocompromised people who were vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine get an additional dose at this time, NCDHHS said.
“There is not enough data on the safety and effectiveness of an additional vaccine dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for it to be authorized. This recommendation may change as more data is available,” the NCDHHS said.
All unvaccinated North Carolinians age 12 and older are encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death, NCDHHS said. Rigorous clinical trials in more than a hundred thousand people have proven vaccines are safe and effective. Almost 200 million Americans have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Research has shown even people who had a mild case of COVID-19 may struggle with long-term effects like shortness of breath, chest pain and brain fog, NCDHHS said.