COVID-19 Booster Shots Recommended For Immunosuppressed Individuals
SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb., ― As COVID-19 vaccine booster shots roll out in the coming weeks, people with underlying health conditions are advised to be the first in line to get the added protection.
Regional West Chief Medical Officer Matthew Bruner, MD, FACOG, said the initial focus is on those who are unable to mount a sufficient immunoresponse.
“The chronically sick, the immunosuppressed, the ones who struggle to mount that immune response are the first ones who should go get that booster shot,” Dr. Bruner said. “It gives them the best chance of preventing COVID-19.”
Dr. Bruner said those with underlying health conditions should certainly get the third dose, and advised that individuals should consult with their provider, particularly if there is a concern about timing as it relates to other treatments that person may be receiving.
“Your provider knows your medical history,” Dr. Bruner said. “He or she knows how you dealt with illnesses before the pandemic and your personal immune response. They would be the ones most equipped to visit with you about whether you should or shouldn’t get the booster shot.”
The booster shot is the same formula as the first two doses people received – no change to the dosage or any ingredients.
Initial vaccinations are still shown to be effective, Dr. Bruner said. The key, he said, is for individuals to complete the first immunization series, then complement it with the booster at the proper time – currently recommended at eight months after the second dose of the vaccine.
“Immunization is the biggest thing,” he said. “Masking does help. The better the mask, the better the protection.”
Dr. Bruner said the enhanced cleaning and sanitizing measures that took place during the pandemic, particularly in schools and areas with large group settings, were important in helping slow the spread of the virus.
Whether an individual gets the booster shot or not, Dr. Bruner said continuing proper hand hygiene and following masking recommendations is important to preventing the spread of the virus.
“If you choose not to get the vaccine booster, continue to do other important things such as social distancing and exercising proper hand hygiene,” he said. “When you’re in large group settings, don’t be afraid to wear a mask.”
Dr. Bruner recommended getting outdoors as a way to get fresh air without the need for a mask. He said a recent study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center showed that the virus travels in the air; however the study also showed that good ventilation prevents spread between, for example, two individuals passing each other on a sidewalk.
“You can’t get any better ventilation than being outside,” Dr. Bruner said.
A third dose for either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for immunocompromised people have already been recommended by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A hearing is scheduled with the FDA is set for Sept. 17 to discuss the need for boosters for the general population. The federal government has said the general population should be able to get the shots beginning Sept. 20, once they are eight months past their original immunization series.
To schedule an appointment for vaccination, contact the Scotts Bluff County COVID-19 Immunization Clinic at 308-630-1580. Additional information on immunization sites is available from the Panhandle Public Health District at PPHD.org.
Regional West Health Services in Scottsbluff, Neb., is the parent company of Regional West Medical Center, a 188-bed regional referral center and the only Level II Trauma Center in Nebraska west of Kearney. As the region’s only tertiary referral medical center, Regional West offers care that spans more than 32 medical specialties provided by over 28 physician clinics. With nearly 300 in-network providers and approximately 2,000 staff members, Regional West provides comprehensive and innovative health care services for the people of western Nebraska and the neighboring states of Colorado, South Dakota, and Wyoming.