MAGIC VALLEY — After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently recommended a third dose of the COVID-19 for immunocompromised people, St. Luke's health officials say they are preparing to start administering the booster shot as early as next week.
“There is data that shows people whose immune systems are not as robust are going to have a harder time responding to a vaccine," Dr. Laura McGeorge, a St. Luke’s System Medical Director for Primary Care, said.
Health officials say the third dose of the vaccine is vital for immunocompromised people since their response rate to the vaccine is lower than those who are not immunocompromised.
“The biggest example would be people who have solid organ transplants like a kidney or a liver transplant. After two doses of the messenger RNA, they typically have about a 50% response rate compared to a 90% response rate from other people," McGeorge said.
Apart from those who have received organ transplants, the list of those who qualify for the booster shot includes HIV patients and those taking immunocompromising medications.
Health officials say the definition of someone who is immunocompromised can be tricky, so they recommend speaking with your primary doctor to see if you qualify.
“This is why it’s best practice to talk to your doctor. The rationale is, for example, if you get medicine that is an infusion, it may be that you want to get the third dose of the vaccine 2-4 weeks before your next IV infusion," McGeorge said.
St. Luke's is still awaiting further information to see if a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is necessary for those who are not immunocompromised.
“We expect to hear that probably within the next two or three weeks as the data is reviewed, but we are expecting that for healthcare workers and long-term facility residents that we would expect to get a third dose of the messenger RNA vaccines," McGeorge said.
Data is also being reviewed to determine whether another dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is needed.