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Expert discusses benefits of immunocompromised, others getting third dose of COVID-19 vaccine

The FDA says people should get a shot if you are immunocompromised because of organ transplants, certain cancers or other conditions.
Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2021 at 8:23 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) -A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) panel has given its approval for a third dose booster of the COVID-19 vaccine to be given to some Americans with weakened immune systems.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized it late Thursday night.

The CDC estimates 9 million Americans are immunocompromised across the country. A Johns Hopkins study found they are 485 times more likely to end up in the hospital or die from COVID-19 - even if they are vaccinated.

The FDA says people should get a shot if you are immunocompromised because of organ transplants, certain cancers or other conditions. FDA officials hope this will help create more antibodies in people who have a lower immune response.

It’s especially important with the variants, like Delta, spreading at a much faster rate.

Doctors say this booster shot could be life or death. This third shot means exactly what it is called - a boost. Doctors hope it can build enough antibodies to be able to fight COVID-19 if an immunocompromised person gets it.

”I’m back to normal again just feeling great,” says Keith Misemer.

Keith Misemer needed a kidney. Two years ago, he got one, but the transplant leaves his immune system compromised. That means the COVID-19 vaccine does not protect him nearly as much.

”Think of all the people with the shots and they just simply believe that they’re free from the virus and they don’t know if they have antibodies or not, says Misemer.

People like Misemer are the very reason the FDA is approving a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. A boost to those sought-after antibodies.

”I think that’s great,” says Dr. Johnna Frierson, who is an Assistant Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Diversity and Inclusion at Duke University Medical School. She has a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology. She says this third dose can be potentially help kick the antibodies into high gear.

”A boost for these individuals will give their bodies that additional practice and hopefully, be able to have a stronger antibody response,” says Frierson.

However, boosters are not anything new. Frierson says most people get them all the time for diseases like tetanus and chickenpox. She also thinks it is not going to just stop at immunocompromised people.

”I think these recommendations will continue immunocompromised or not they’re going to continue to develop over time,” she says.

Frierson says it is best to talk to your doctor if you fall into this category or if a third shot becomes available to anyone.

WBTV reached out to the major hospitals in the South Carolina area. Piedmont Medical Center, Novant Presbyterian and MUSC Lancaster/Chester do not have a plan yet for giving out third doses at the hospitals or at home. That is likely to change soon.

Atrium released this statement:

“Continued spread of the COVID Delta variant has reinforced the need for everyone to get a COVID vaccine. For this reason, Atrium Health is pleased to learn of the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to approve a COVID booster vaccine to provide additional protection for those who are immunocompromised. Before we can offer a booster vaccine, additional approvals are required from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Once those approvals are granted, we will provide information on how we will offer these booster vaccines to those who have medical conditions that have weakened their immune systems.”

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