BY JACK PHILLIPS AND ZACHARY STIEBER August 13, 2021 Updated: August 13, 2021
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel on Friday voted 11–0 for additional COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for individuals who are immunocompromised.
The decision applies to only those who have received two doses of the mRNA vaccines made by Moderna or Pfizer, not the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Immunocompromised people—including individuals who are solid organ transplant recipients, those with advanced HIV infections, those with certain chronic medical conditions like asplenia and chronic renal disease, certain cancer patients, and others—will not need a doctor’s note, prescription, or proof of their condition to receive the third shot, according to a presentation from the CDC (pdf).
“We are not recommending that either prescriptions or a physician sign off, or be necessary for individuals to receive an additional dose of mRNA if they’re immunocompromised,” Dr. Kathleen Dooling, a member of the CDC advisory panel, said during the meeting.
The immunocompromised are estimated to make up about 2.7 percent of all U.S. adults, according to the CDC presentation.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices meeting comes hours after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided authorization late Thursday for third shots of the mRNA vaccines for organ transplant recipients and others with compromised immune systems.
In remarks made to the committee following the vote, Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot, an associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University and committee member, noted that the CDC didn’t refer to the third shot for immunocompromised people as a “booster shot.”
“We’re looking at a very specific population in the U.S. that was not able to mount a normal immune response to the (first) two doses,” Talbot stated. “This is a very specific population, and it’s not meant for the entire U.S. population.”
Early studies, according to a CDC presentation from Dooling, indicate that of the people who had no detectable antibody response to the two mRNA shots, between 33 percent and 50 percent developed an antibody response to a third dose.
“No patients developed critical side effects which required hospitalization,” the presentation reads. “Symptoms reported were consistent with previous doses and the intensity of the symptoms was mostly mild or moderate.”
Experts are recommending that booster shots not be administered until at least 28 days after the second shot of the initial series, according to another CDC presentation (pdf).
They are also recommending that individuals who received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine get the same brand of shot.
The CDC, meanwhile, said that the current vaccine supply in the United States is sufficient to make additional doses available.
The decision appears to be at odds with a plea from the World Health Organization, which last week called for a moratorium on COVID-19 booster doses to provide vaccines for poorer nations. Despite WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros’s calls, White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the WHO chief’s argument as a “false choice” and said both third doses in the United States and donations of vaccines abroad can be provided.
France, Israel, the United Kingdom, and Germany have already or are planning to provide third doses for certain populations.
Responding to the FDA’s decision, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla wrote on Twitter Friday that emergency use authorization for third doses “will help increase protection for this population.”
The Epoch Times has reached out to Moderna and Pfizer for comment.
The CDC’s concern is because;
Immunocompromised people comprise ~2.7% of U.S. adults (~7 million adults)1
More likely to get severely ill from COVID-191,2
Higher risk for:
– Prolonged SARS-CoV-2 infection and shedding3-7, 14-16
– Viral evolution during infection and treatment (hospitalized patients)3,6,8-10,14,17
Lower antibody/neutralization titers to SARS-CoV-2 variants compared to
non-immunocompromised people 12
More likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to household contacts
And are more likely to have breakthrough infection
– 40-44% of hospitalized breakthrough cases are immunocompromised people in US
Lower vaccine effectiveness
– 59–72% VE among immunocompromised people vs. 90–94% among non-immunocompromised people after 2nd dose1, 3-5
But in the end their good indentions may mean that instead of it being a booster shot, it may end up being a kill shot?
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York. Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.