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Ohio Department of Health recommends immunocompromised individuals get third COVID vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration authorized a COVID-19 booster shot for transplant recipients and those with weakened immune systems on Thursday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The state’s top doctor is recommending those who are immunocompromised to get an additional COVID-19 vaccine if they have received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff’s recommendation comes after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the booster shot on Thursday to combat the surge of the delta variant across the country.

Vanderhoff said those who have moderate to severe immunosuppression should get the extra shot 28 days after they completed the first two doses.

An additional dose for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not recommended as the guidance is still pending.

The purpose of the additional doses is to strengthen the immune response. Vanderhoff said recent data shows that immunocompromised people may not develop a sufficient response from the two-dose vaccines.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) advises people with very impaired immune systems also endorses the extra shot.

The group of people who would qualify for the extra shot would be transplant recipients, some cancer patients, people with advanced other HIVs or others with certain conditions.

Vanderhoff said the ACIP is working to define who else would follow into the category.

The recommendation is for a very small group of people. Vanderhoff said there is less than 3% of people in the state who would qualify for the third dose.

Vanderhoff said there is no approval system for receiving the third shot. If you believe you fall into the immunocompromised category or you think you might need one, you should speak with your doctor.

If you believe you fall into the immunocompromised category, Vanderhoff said you should talk with your doctor. 

Vanderhoff said there is no data to suggest that an extra dose is recommended for everyone else and discourages anyone from seeking one unless they are immunocompromised.

In order to curb the spread of the delta variant, Vanderhoff is encouraging people to get vaccinated.

"We still need to get more Ohioans vaccinated if we want to avoid continuing to confront these surges that we have been seeing over and over," Vanderhoff said.