Vulnerable People May Need Up to Four Vaccine Doses, CDC Says

(Image via AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

By Sarah Ovaska

February 16, 2022

For the 3% of people considered immunocompromised, new guidance suggests getting to four COVID-19 vaccine doses. 

If your immune system is challenged and can’t easily fight off disease, you may need up to four doses of COVID-19 vaccines to stay safe.

That’s the latest guidance out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recently adjusted its suggestions for those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

This can include nearly 3% of the overall population, and people who may have chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes or lupus. Others may be on medications that suppress their immune system, as is the case with transplant recipients and people being treated for cancer.

People in this camp should plan on getting a fourth vaccine shot in most cases, the CDC is now recommending.

Here’s who the CDC considers moderately or severely immunocompromised:

  • People receiving cancer treatment for tumors or blood cancer
  • Organ or stem cell transplant recipients who take medicine to suppress their immune systems
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infections
  • Those treated with high-dose corticosteroids or other immune-system suppressing drugs

The new CDC guidance suggests those who are immunocompromised and are 12 or over get three initial shots of the Pfizer and/or Moderna mRNA vaccines, and then a fourth vaccine booster dose three months later. Those who received the Johnson & Johnson shot initially should seek out two additional doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

As always, the best person to talk to about this is your doctor.

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