Some at-risk Americans will soon be eligible for a fourth shot


According to new federal recommendations, immunocompromised people may soon receive a fourth dose of the vaccine. Adriana Zebraskas/The New York Times

Some people with weakened immune systems could receive a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine as early as this coming week, according to new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC endorsed a third dose of Pfizer-BioEntech and Moderna vaccines on August 13 for those who are moderately or severely immunized, but said it would be considered a part of the primary vaccination, not a booster shot.

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In October, the agency said those immunocompromised people could get a booster shot — the fourth dose of the vaccine, six months after their third dose. These guidelines were in line with its recommendation for other adults.

Last week, hoping to stem the growth of infections with the highly infectious Omron variant, the CDC shortened that interval to five months for a booster shot for Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna recipients.

For immunocompromised people receiving a shot of the coronavirus vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, the CDC does not recommend an additional primary dose, but recommends that they get a booster shot of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine two months after the first dose. Get it.

Some people are born with an absent or defective immune system, and in others, the power of immune defenses is reduced by treatment for certain diseases, such as cancer. The CDC estimates that there are approximately 7 million immunized individuals in the country.

Many of them produce few or no antibodies in response to a vaccine or infection, making them susceptible to the virus. When they become infected, they can suffer from prolonged illness, with a mortality rate of up to 55%.

It is not clear what proportion of those people are safe from additional doses. Still, with Omicron variants increasing in the country, some immunocompromised people sought a fourth or fifth shot of vaccines even before the CDC changed its guidelines. Although taking multiple doses of vaccines over a short period of time is unlikely to be harmful, it may give diminishing returns, according to some experts.

The CDC says any American 12 and older can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech booster — those 18 and older can optionally receive the Moderna booster — along with those vaccines to get their initial shots. Five months after completion. Israel has already started giving a fourth dose to high-risk groups, including older adults. But the Biden administration has yet to say whether it plans to follow suit.

Asked Friday about the possibility of a fourth shot for the general population, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Valensky said the focus is on Americans deserving of their third shot.

He said US officials are in close contact with Israeli experts about their data. “We will also carefully follow our own data to see how these boosters are working in terms of reducing effectiveness, not only for infections, but for severe disease,” she said.

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