UAMS Offers Third Dose of COVID Vaccine To Immunocompromised Patients

The CDC has approved an additional shot to protect this vulnerable population.

vaccines lying on a table
Photo by Bryan Clifton

Starting today, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will offer a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to its moderately and severely immunocompromised patients. Appointments are required.

Under new guidelines, only patients who received the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and who meet the definition of moderately or severely immunocompromised are eligible for a third dose. The third dose should be the same vaccine the patient received earlier.

UAMS patients eligible for a COVID booster include:

  • Those in active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
  • Transplant patients who are taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • Those who have received CAR-T cell therapy or a stem cell transplant (within two years of transplantation or still taking immunosuppressive therapy)
  • Those with advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Those undergoing active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids and other pharmaceuticals that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory

Existing UAMS patients should contact their physician to see if they are eligible for a booster and to schedule an appointment.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorizations for both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines last Thursday to allow for the use of an additional dose in certain immunocompromised individuals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices officially endorsed a third shot for this vulnerable population last Friday. 

Emerging data suggest some people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity as those who are not immunocompromised. Additionally, fully vaccinated immunocompromised people have accounted for 40 to 44 percent of hospitalized breakthrough cases in small studies.

People who are immunocompromised make up about 3 percent of the U.S. adult population and are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness. At this time, a third shot is not being recommended for people who are not immunocompromised. 

“As we’ve previously stated, other individuals who are fully vaccinated are adequately protected and do not need an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine at this time,” acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said. “The FDA is actively engaged in a science-based, rigorous process with our federal partners to consider whether an additional dose may be needed in the future.”