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St. Luke’s Readies Booster Shots for Immunocompromised People
Saturday, August 21, 2021


St. Luke’s Health System will be ready in a few days to begin administering a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine to those who have undergone organ transplants, those with HIV and those who are taking medications or chemotherapy that leave them with a limited immune response.

The Food & Drug Administration recently amended the emergency use authorizations for both Pfizer and Modern COVID-19 vaccines to provide third shots for immunocompromised people. And it will likely begin offering booster shots to all other vaccinated individuals eight months after their original vaccination, beginning Sept. 20.

Studies have shown that some immunocompromised people do not mount as robust an immune response to the COVID vaccines as those with normal immune systems, Dr. Laura McGeorge, medical director of primary care for St. Luke’s Health System, told reporters Thursday. A kidney transplant recipient, she said, has about a 50 percent response rate to the original two-dose vaccine compared with a 90-plus percent response rate in others.

“It’s not surprising people whose immune system is not robust will not respond as well,” she said. “But we have incredibly strong data that the vaccines are … extremely protective—90 percent protective—against getting hospitalized or dying from COVID. What we are starting to see with the Delta variant is that those who have had vaccines can get mild case of COVID, maybe like mild cold….and they can spread it to others.”

The Centers for Disease Control began recommending that even the vaccinated go back to wearing masks in public because of the fact they can pass it on, she added.

A prescription is not necessary for immunocompromised people to get that third dose. But St. Luke’s recommends that those getting the third shot talk with their primary care physician, as they may have recommendations about the timing of the shot. Recipients should wait at least four weeks after they finish the original vaccination package before they get a third dose, McGeorge said.

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