OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – People who are immunocompromised can now get a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Some Oklahomans are wondering which conditions qualify.
“[My husband and I] both have autoimmune situations. I have a lupus, I’m a past breast cancer survivor twice, we both have high blood pressure, Debra Vaughn said. “I’m confused on what severely immunocompromised is.”
Health officials say only a very small group of people qualify.
“People in those groups tend to not have the same antibody response as say a person with a ‘normal immune system,'” Eddie Withers, epidemiology supervisor at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, said.
OCCHD says people with these conditions qualify for a third dose:
A) having undergone solid organ transplantation or B) being diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise to solid organ transplantation.
Conditions could include:
- receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- advanced or untreated HIV infection
- active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
“Immunocompromised is the key word here. These treatments that they list are really invasive,” Molly Fleming with OCCHD said.
While many autoimmune disease patients are on immunosuppressants, experts say if you’re not, you might not qualify. If you used to have cancer, you may not qualify, but you should ask your doctor.
Conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure don’t qualify.
As for other comorbidities, experts say third doses will likely be available to more groups of people in the future.
“As time goes on, they will eventually widen the number of people that will be approved for booster doses, but for now it’s just immunosuppressed patients,” Dr. George Monks, former president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association said.
It’s best to talk to your doctor to see if a third dose is right for you.
“It’s just a waiting game for us,” Alyssa Sebastian said. “My doctor’s office said they haven’t heard anything yet, just be patient.”
A second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has not been approved.
You can get third doses through the State Health Department or your county health department.
While OCCHD is having people legally attest to have a qualifying condition, the State Health Department is using an honor system.
Some pharmacies and doctor’s offices will also offer third doses.