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Do I need a third dose of the COVID vaccine?

By Brittany Wagner

Do I need to get a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that it recommends an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to those who are immunocompromised. According to the CDC, people with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are at a higher risk of developing serious and prolonged illness. But what does it mean to be immunocompromised? How do you know if you or a loved one is eligible for an extra dose of the vaccine?

What does it mean to be immunocompromised?

About 3% of the adult population are immunocompromised in the U.S. This means their immune systems do not work as well as they should and can’t effectively protect them against infections.

Research shows that some immunocompromised people don’t get the same level of protection from vaccines as the rest of the population does. Immunocompromised people may benefit from an additional dose that could add another layer of protection against COVID-19.

Is it a booster shot?

The CDC specifies that this additional shot is not considered a “booster” shot. Boosters are given to people whose immune systems have weakened over time. This additional mRNA dose is the same as the first two doses and given after the initial vaccine series to groups who do not have a strong immune system.

Which conditions could affect my immune system?

Examples of conditions that may result in a weakened immune system are:

  • Cancer
  • Organ transplant
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Received stem cell transplant
  • Taking immunosuppressive medications

If you or a loved one have a medical condition listed above, speak with your health care provider about getting another dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

What do I need to know before making an appointment for a third dose?

Some things to keep in mind before getting an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Wait at least 28 days after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine
  • The CDC is not currently recommending a second Johnson & Johnson shot
  • The CDC is not currently recommending additional shots for any other population
  • Your third shot should be the same series as your first two. For example, three shots of Moderna or three shots of Pfizer.

What if I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

Currently, the CDC is only recommending additional shots if you are immunocompromised and completed a series of two Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. If you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you do not need to get an additional shot at this time. According to the CDC, there are not enough data to determine if immunocompromised people who received the Johnson & Johnson shot benefit from a second shot.

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