The Food and Drug Administration will allow people with compromised immune systems to get a third dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. The agency amended the emergency use authorizations for each vaccine to allow this specific group of people to get an extra shot.
Usually, the standard two doses are enough for a person to generate plenty of antibodies to fight off the coronavirus. But research done over the past few months shows that many immunocompromised people make too few antibodies or none at all. A third dose might give some of those patients the boost they need to produce antibodies. French officials have been recommending those patients get a third shot since April.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to vote on Friday on whether that agency should recommend a third shot for this group. The committee discussed the possibility of boosters at its June and July meetings, and during those conversations, many members seemed to support the change.
The change only clears booster doses for people who have received solid organ transplants or with conditions that impair the immune system to a similar degree. The agency did not give additional details about which conditions might qualify. The change doesn’t open up third shots to otherwise healthy adults, and it’s still not clear if and when those may be necessary.