FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Terrie Davidson
Community Relations Manager
Wickenburg Community Hospital
Office: (928) 684-3219
August 20, 2021 ‐ Wickenburg, AZ – Wickenburg Community Hospital (WCH) shares that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially signed off on a recommendation by an independent panel of 11 experts to allow people with weakened immune function to get a third dose of certain COVID-19 vaccines.
People who fall into this category are at higher risk of being hospitalized or dying if they get COVID-19. They are also more likely to transmit the infection. About 40% of vaccinated patients who are hospitalized with breakthrough cases are immunocompromised. Recent studies have shown that between one-third and one-half of immunocompromised people who didn’t develop antibodies after two doses of a vaccine do get some level of protection after a third dose. Even then, however, the protection immunocompromised people get from vaccines is not as robust as someone who has healthy immune function, and some panel members were concerned that a third dose might come with a false sense of security.
Vaccine boosters will be available to children as young as 12 who have had a Pfizer vaccine or those ages 18 and older who received the Moderna vaccine. Those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines would be eligible to get a booster shot 8 months after they received the second dose of those vaccines. Information on boosters for those who got the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine have not been cleared to get a second dose of any vaccine; more information will be forthcoming.
These third doses were not intended for people whose immune function had waned with age, such as elderly residents of long-term care facilities or people with chronic diseases like diabetes. These are intended for patients who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, in close consultation with their doctors, but that people who should qualify would include those:
- Receiving treatment for solid tumors or blood cancers
- Taking immunosuppressing medications after a solid organ transplant
- Within 2 years of receiving CAR-T therapy or a stem cell transplant
- Who have primary immunodeficiencies – rare genetic disorders that prevent the immune system from working properly
- Taking high-dose corticosteroids (more than 20 milligrams of or its equivalent daily), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, chemotherapy, TNF blockers, or other immunomodulating or immunosuppressing biologics
- With certain chronic medical conditions, such as or asplenia – living without a spleen
- Receiving dialysis
Tests to measure neutralizing antibodies are also not recommended before the shots are given because of differences in the types of tests used to measure these antibodies and the difficulty in interpreting them. It’s unclear right now what level of neutralizing antibodies is needed for protection.
Pfizer’s waning efficacy may have something to do with the fact that it uses a lower dosage than Moderna’s. Pfizer’s recommended dosing interval is also shorter – 3 weeks compared with 4 weeks for Moderna’s. Stretching the time between shots has been shown to boost vaccine effectiveness, she said. New data from the Mayo clinic, published ahead of peer review, also suggest that Pfizer’s protection may be fading more quickly than Moderna’s. In February, both shots were nearly 100% effective at preventing the SARS-CoV-2 infection, but by July, against Delta, Pfizer’s efficacy had dropped to somewhere between 13% and 62%, while Moderna’s was still effective at preventing infection between 58% and 87% of the time. In July, Pfizer’s was between 24% and 94% effective at preventing hospitalization with a COVID-19 infection and Moderna’s was between 33% and 96% effective at preventing hospitalization.
As of August 2, severe COVD-19 outcomes after vaccination are still very rare. Among 164 million fully vaccinated people in the United States there have been about 7,000 hospitalizations and 1,500 deaths; nearly three out of four of these have been in people over the age of 65.
WCH currently has a team working on how and when we will be able to have third vaccine doses available and will be releasing vaccine clinic information in the coming weeks. Those seeking the vaccine are encouraged to stay tuned to WCH’s website; wickhosp.com/coronavirus-news/ and social media platforms for vaccine availability announcements.
WCH Emergency Department and Community Clinics are able to screen symptomatic patients for COVID and carbon screen persons for travel. If you are in need of screening and it is not an emergency, please call the Community Hospital Clinic at 928-668-1833.
For any questions, please feel free to contact Karen Smith x3350 or firstname.lastname@example.org.