People with weakened immune systems should get COVID booster shots sooner

People with weakened immune systems should get COVID booster shots sooner
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ST. LOUIS – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging those with weakened immune systems to get their COVID vaccine booster shots sooner.

The CDC said moderately-to-severely immunocompromised people who’ve had two vaccines and a booster should look to get a fourth shot three months after the previous booster. The CDC had previously been recommending a wait of at least five months.

“For some of these people in these categories, they don’t have a normal response to the vaccine and their protection, whatever protection they’re able to mount, is going to fade faster,” said Dr. Jo-Ann Jose, an infectious diseases specialist at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.

The doctor said she’s aware of many immunocompromised individuals who are vaccinated with two shots and a booster that experience breakthrough COVID infections.

“Any hospital will tell you that we have a decent number of people who come in quite ill from omicron, as well as delta before it, who have a severe outcome because they are immunocompromised, so it is really important that we protect that population,” she said.

According to the CDC, studies have shown that administering a fourth shot shortly after a third dose strengthened immune responses in immunocompromised individuals

“People who are moderately-to-severely immunocompromised do not respond to the vaccine the way that someone with a healthy immunocompetent system does,” Dr. Jose said. “They have a higher risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 and they have a quicker waning of their response that their vaccine is able to create.”

The doctor said it becomes even more important for vaccinated immunocompromised individuals to continue mask-wearing, maintain social distancing, avoid large crowds, and frequent handwashing.

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