Late last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines for moderate to severely immunocompromised individuals. The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) urges immunocompromised North Dakotans to consider receiving an additional dose to increase their immunity to COVID-19.
“We encourage those who qualify for a third dose or are unsure if they qualify to contact their health care provider. We are also encouraging health care providers to reach out to their immunocompromised patients to discuss vaccination,” said Jennifer Galbraith, COVID vaccine manager for the NDDoH. “With the continued spread of COVID-19 across North Dakota, it is important that we take every step to protect those most at risk in our community.”
Immunocompromised individuals are at an increased risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, and emerging evidence suggests they have a weaker immune response following the initial COVID-19 vaccination series. After considering research that suggests a third dose may increase immunity and protect from serious COVID-19 complications, the ACIP voted to recommend that moderate to severely immunocompromised individuals receive an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This dose should be given at least 28 days after the last COVID-19 dose and be the same brand that the individual previously received.
Individuals who believe they are moderate to severely immunocompromised should discuss their concerns with their health care provider. A prescription or a doctor’s signature is not needed to receive a third dose, as the ACIP recommendations allow self-attesting moderately and severely immunocompromised people to receive a third dose.
The recommendations from the ACIP emphasize the need for immunocompromised people to continue use of mitigation strategies even after a third dose, as their immune response is less than in other people. Mitigation strategies include wearing a mask, social distancing and avoiding crowds, especially in poorly ventilated indoor spaces. Those who are in close contact with those who are immunocompromised are encouraged to be vaccinated, if they have not already done so, to increase protection of those who are at greater risk.
Currently, there are insufficient data to support the use of additional mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses in individuals who received a single dose of the J&J Janssen vaccine. Immunocompromised individuals who previously received one dose of the J&J Janssen vaccine are not recommended to receive an additional dose at this time. The FDA and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are actively working to provide guidance for these individuals.
Information on COVID-19 vaccine providers and clinics near you can be found on the NDDoH COVID Vaccine Locator page. Individuals can also contact the NDDoH public health hotline at 1-866-207-2880 for questions related to COVID-19 and for assistance in scheduling a vaccine appointment.