CLEVELAND (WJW) — Starting Monday, people with certain medical conditions may start receiving a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Last week, the FDA approved the booster shots to protect people who are immuno-compromised, against the highly contagious delta variant.
Both the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals tell us they are finalizing plans to give booster shots to some fully vaccinated people with compromised or suppressed immune systems, but they are waiting to hear more from state and federal health authorities before officially announcing details of their plans.
“It’s a plan under development and a plan that would be implemented, you know, over the weekend and even by Monday,” said Dr. Daniel Simon, chief clinical and scientific officer for University Hospitals.
Both University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic are gearing up this week to provide a third COVID-19 vaccination shot for people with suppressed or compromised immune systems.
“This is active or recent treatment for a solid tumor or a blood malignancy, receipt of a solid organ or a stem cell transplant, severe primary immuno-deficiency, advanced or untreated HIV,” said Dr. Simon.
The list includes other medical conditions, including chronic kidney disease and people who take medication that weakens their immune systems. Medical experts say the booster would be for anyone who is fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. So far, there’s no approval for another dose of Johnson & Johnson.
“There are about nine million Americans with weakened immune systems and these individuals have a 400 fold increased risk of hospitalization with COVID, so these people need something more,” Dr. Simon said.
In a statement, the Cleveland Clinic says studies show a third dose is safe and can provide added protection from severe illness and death. According to the FDA, 40 to 44% of breakthrough COVID-19 cases that require hospitalization are people who are immuno-compromised.
Health experts are not recommending a booster for anyone outside of this group, but state health officials say people have already lied to get an extra dose.
“Many of these are occurring in the context of people who may believe they are merited another shot, may be severely immuno-compromised and are doing so in advance of our recommendations,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, incoming director of the Ohio Department of Health.
Dr. Simon with UH says anyone who is unsure if they qualify for a vaccine booster should talk to their doctor. He says, if so, it should be easy to get the third dose, and it’s free.
“That individual can seek vaccination either, for instance, in our transplant clinic, which we intend to do on Monday or could go to a local pharmacy and it doesn’t even take a physician order,” said Dr. Simon.
Both hospitals also encourage anyone who hasn’t received their initial vaccine to get one, as the highly-contagious delta variant continues to spread fast across the state.
Trials are currently underway to see whether booster shots will be needed for the general public at some point, but so far, they are not recommending them.