HOUSTON — Memorial Hermann is offering a third dose the COVID-19 vaccine, or booster shot, to immunocompromised individuals at their hospitals and clinics in the Greater Houston area.
The hospital system is offering the booster shot of the fully approved Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine, which is still under emergency-use authorization.
The booster shot will then be made available to the general public the week of Sept. 20.
Dr. Annamaria Macaluso Davidson with Memorial Hermann said the COVID-19 vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and death.
“For those patients it’s helpful to have a third dose in the series to help boost that immune response knowing that they’re also on medications that kind of suppress an immune response as well,” Dr. Macaluso Davidson said.
What is the criteria for immunocompromised individuals to get COVID-19 booster shot?
The booster shot is available for immunocompromised individuals who meet criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hospital officials said individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness. These moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals include:
- Those receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood.
- Organ transplant recipients and those who are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
- Those who have received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
- Those with advanced or untreated HIV infection.
- Those undergoing active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress their immune response.
Hospital officials said it is recommended that these individuals receive third dose of either COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after receiving their second dose of the same vaccine.
According to the CDC, the authorization of an additional dose or booster shot of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for those with a compromised immune system does not apply to individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.
Individuals should speak with their healthcare provider before receiving an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Eligible individuals should plan to show their COVID-19 vaccination card when receiving the additional dose. At the time of scheduling an appointment or prior to receiving an additional dose, individuals will be required to self-attest that they meet the criteria for receiving a booster shot.
When will the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot be offered to the general public?
Memorial Hermann will begin administering the third dose to the general public the week of Sept. 20, 2021, per the CDC’s recommendation.
These individuals can get their booster shot eight months after receiving their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
“But, that third dose is the booster is going to help solidify your immune response, help if there’s any waning immunity or kind of that immunity is decreasing a little bit and prevent even mild and moderate infections that we’re seeing especially with this Delta variant,” Dr. Macaluso Davidson said.
She recommends people get the same vaccine, Moderna or Pfizer, that they got during their first two doses.
“We anticipate there may be some recommendations for an additional dose for immunocompromised or for a booster in the future but no recommendations yet,” she said.
Also, she said a third dose of the vaccine will help reduce breakthrough cases.
More details will be shared on this process as the date gets closer.
To schedule an appointment at a Memorial Hermann vaccine clinic, please complete the online COVID-19 Vaccine Request Form. At this time, you may also receive an additional dose or a booster shot without an appointment at any of the Memorial Hermann walk-in clinics.
To learn more, visit www.memorialhermann.org/covid19vaccine.