Everything you need to know about the CDC's COVID-19 vaccine booster recommendations

ByCourtney Carpenter KTRK logo
Friday, August 13, 2021
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This booster shot only applies to people who are considered high risk, but when will it be recommended for the general population?

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for immunocompromised people.

This move only applies to people who are considered high risk, which is estimated to be around 3% of U.S. adults.

ABC13 spoke with Dr. Rodrigo Hasbun, an infectious disease specialist at UTHealth Houston, to answer some of your questions about this new guidance.

Q: Who is being recommended to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

A: "Definitely the big group of patients we are worried about are patients that received a transplant, either a solid organ or a bone marrow transplant, because they are heavy dose immunosuppressant agents," said Hasbun. "Also, those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, [and] those who are on steroids or other immune therapies like Rituximab or monoclonal antibodies that lower your immune system. Those should definitely be considered for a third dose right now."

The CDC said immunocompromised people are not going to need a doctor's note, prescription, or proof of their condition to get a third dose.

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Q: If the booster can help people who are immunocompromised, why is it not recommended for the general public yet?

A: "Immunocompetent patients who have been adequately vaccinated right now are very unlikely to get COVID, symptomatic COVID, to the point of being hospitalized or dying from COVID," said Hasbun. "It is really unlikely for immunocompetent patients. So this is a first step. More studies will be needed in the future to see if this is going to be changed to everybody in the population to get a third dose, but right now, the urgency really is to vaccinate those patients we know for sure need a third dose right now."

Q: Will it ever be recommended for the general population to get a booster shot?

A: "I think in the future, everybody should get a booster," said Hasbun. "Probably, we are going to be giving COVID vaccines every year, just like we do with the flu vaccine, so that's most likely where we are headed. But this is the first big step to address at least the most urgent patient population, that's immunosuppressed ones."

The FDA said an immunocompromised person can get their third dose at least 28 days after getting their second Pfizer or Moderna shot.

This recommendation does not apply to those who have received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.