NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — Some folks are rolling their sleeves up a third time to get an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Now there is a difference between the third dose and the booster shot.
Live+ Well Pharmacy is one of several pharmacies offering the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Pharmacist in Charge, Luke Hall says the difference is the third dose is available now only for those with weakened immune systems. While the booster shot is expected to be available in the fall for the general public.
Let’s break it down a bit further. According to the ADH the third dose is only available to those who are moderate or severely immunocompromised. Adding they don’t build the same level of immunity after vaccination as someone with a normal immune system would.
“Those patients are the ones who are going to be sicker from the virus because just the fact that their natural immune response is not doing what it is supposed to,” said Hall.
This group is still vulnerable to getting severely sick and ending up in the hospital with COVID-19 even after getting the two-dose series. The third shot would give them better protection from the disease.
“This will help protect them more reliably from COVID-19, hospitalizations, and deaths. We certainly want to keep them out of the hospital and we want them to live healthy and happy lives to the extent possible,” said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, Chief Medical Officer for Immunizations, with the Arkansas Department of Health.
Those considered high-risk include someone receiving certain cancer treatments, someone receiving organ or bone marrow transplants and those with advanced or untreated HIV to name a few.
The third dose of the Pfizer vaccine is available for those 12 and older and for Moderna, the age is 18 years old and up.
Health officials say the third dose should be the same brand as the series you originally received.
The third dose is recommended 28 days after getting your second shot.
Folks who get the third dose should still take safety precautions like wearing a face-covering and social distancing.
Health officials expect to offer the booster shots starting on September 20, pending FDA approval and the CDC’s advisory committee on immunization’s recommendation. The booster shot will be available to the general public.
The booster shot would be available for both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and would have to be given 8 months after the second dose series
Dr. Dillaha says research shows that the effectiveness of the vaccines drops over time and this will help boost a person’s immune level back to when they were first vaccinated.
As far as the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, studies are still being done and there isn’t a recommendation on additional doses available at this time.