UNITED STATES NEWS

Extra COVID vaccine OK’d for those with weak immune systems

Aug 13, 2021, 9:47 AM | Updated: Aug 14, 2021, 3:01 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators say transplant recipients and others with severely weakened immune systems can get an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to better protect them as the delta variant continues to surge.

The late-night announcement Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration applies to several million Americans who are especially vulnerable because of organ transplants, certain cancers or other disorders. Several other countries, including France and Israel, have similar recommendations.

It’s harder for vaccines to rev up an immune system suppressed by certain medications and diseases, so those patients don’t always get the same protection as otherwise healthy people — and small studies suggest for at least some, an extra dose may be the solution.

“Today’s action allows doctors to boost immunity in certain immunocompromised individuals who need extra protection from COVID-19,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, the FDA’s acting commissioner, said in a statement.

The FDA determined that transplant recipients and others with a similar level of compromised immunity can receive a third dose of the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna at least 28 days after getting their second shot. The FDA made no mention of immune-compromised patients who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The announcement comes as the extra-contagious delta version of the coronavirus surges through much of the country, pushing new cases, hospitalizations and deaths to heights not seen since last winter.

Importantly, the FDA’s decision only applies to this high-risk group, estimated to be no more than 3% of U.S. adults. It’s not an opening for booster doses for the general population.

Instead, health authorities consider the extra dose part of the initial prescription for the immune-compromised. For example, France since April has encouraged that such patients get a third dose four weeks after their regular second shot. Israel and Germany also recently began recommending a third dose of two-dose vaccines.

Separately, U.S. health officials are continuing to closely monitor if and when average people’s immunity wanes enough to require boosters for everyone — but for now, the vaccines continue to offer robust protection for the general population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to formally recommend the extra shots for certain immune-compromised groups after a meeting Friday of its outside advisers.

Transplant recipients and others with suppressed immune systems know they’re at more risk than the average American and some have been seeking out extra doses on their own, even if it means lying about their vaccination status. The change means now the high-risk groups can more easily get another shot — but experts caution it’s not yet clear exactly who should.

“This is all going to be very personalized,” cautioned Dr. Dorry Segev, a transplant surgeon at Johns Hopkins University who is running a major National Institutes of Health study of extra shots for organ recipients. For some people, a third dose “increases their immune response. Yet for some people it does not seem to. We don’t quite know who’s who yet.”

One recent study of more than 650 transplant recipients found just over half harbored virus-fighting antibodies after two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines — although generally less than in otherwise healthy vaccinated people. Another study of people with rheumatoid arthritis and similar autoimmune diseases found only those who use particular medications have very poor vaccine responses.

There’s little data on how well a third dose works, and if it causes any safety problems such as an increased risk of organ rejection. Wednesday, Canadian researchers reported that transplant recipients were more likely to have high levels of antibodies if they got a third dose than those given a dummy shot for comparison. Other small studies have similarly found that some transplant recipients respond to a third dose while others still lack enough protection.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

United States News

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission speaks at the World Economic Forum in Da...
Associated Press

Davos climate focus: Can ‘going green’ mean oil and gas?

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — As government officials, corporate leaders and other elites at the World Economic Forum grapple with how to confront climate change and its devastating effects, a central question is emerging: to what extent can oil and gas companies be part of a transition to lower-carbon fuels? In different times the question could […]
3 hours ago
President Joe Biden, right, meets with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during the Quad l...
Associated Press

New Australian leader Albanese makes whirlwind world debut

TOKYO (AP) — Hours after being sworn in as Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony Albanese found himself fresh off a jet and thrown into the glare of a global spotlight Tuesday. He was rewarded with a warm welcome, as well as a bit of a gentle ribbing, from U.S. President Joe Biden and other leaders […]
3 hours ago
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) sprays water on his face during a timeout ag...
Associated Press

Defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning back in East finals

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jon Cooper had every reason to be confident the two-time defendin Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning could keep their bid for a three-peat alive. “Our story is not finished being written,” the coach said earlier this month with his team on the brink of elimination in the first round against […]
1 day ago
Flowers, flags and other memorabilia create a makeshift memorial at the site where  veteran Palesti...
Associated Press

Review suggests Israeli fire killed reporter, no final word

JENIN, West Bank (AP) — Who killed Shireen Abu Akleh? Almost two weeks after the death of the veteran Palestinian-American reporter for Al Jazeera, a reconstruction by The Associated Press lends support to assertions from both Palestinian authorities and Abu Akleh’s colleagues that the bullet that cut her down came from an Israeli gun. Any […]
1 day ago
A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headqu...
Associated Press

Global shares trade lower as inflation worries cloud outlook

TOKYO (AP) — Global shares declined Tuesday as worries over inflation tempered optimism over President Joe Biden’s remark that he was considering reducing U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports. European shares fell in early trading, with France’s CAC 40 down 1.3% at 6,275.73. Germany’s DAX dipped nearly 1.0% to 14,038.93, while Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 0.7% […]
1 day ago
Follow @ktar923...
Sponsored Content by Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Christina O’Haver

Stroke month: Experts call attention to stroke prevention

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
By Dr. Richard Carmona

Now’s a great time to receive your COVID-19 vaccine

If you haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine yet, now’s the time to join many other of your fellow Arizonans who are doing so right now. No one will criticize you; there is no shame. In fact, you’ll be welcomed with smiles and open arms!
Extra COVID vaccine OK’d for those with weak immune systems