Genesee County, MI— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending an additional dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for people ages 12 and older who have compromised immune systems.

“Emerging data suggest some people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity compared to people who are not immunocompromised,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement Aug. 13.

Genesee County residents who qualify can receive their third shot at any of the Genesee County Health Department vaccine clinics or at most pharmacies. They must wait at least 28 days after their second dose to be eligible for a third.

JoAnne Herman, COVID-19 nursing coordinator for the GCHD, said documentation, like a doctor’s note or a blood test, will not be required for those seeking an additional shot with the GCHD.

Currently, the CDC’s recommendation does not apply to immunocompromised individuals who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. These individuals should continue to social distance, wash their hands regularly, and wear a mask, Herman said.

“It’s just to try to give them the maximum protection because they don’t reach the same immunity as a healthy person from the two doses. That’s why we’re offering a third dose,” Emergency Preparedness Health Educator for the GCHD Sherelle Bell-Brown said.

According to the CDC, immunocompromised individuals include those who are receiving cancer treatment, those with an HIV infection, those who have received a stem cell transplant within the last two years, those who are taking medicine to suppress the immune system, and those who have received an organ transplant.

The CDC recommends individuals consult with their healthcare providers to determine whether an additional dose is appropriate.

Herman said the Delta variant, as well as other mutations, is one of the main reasons for the CDC’s recommendation.

“What the vaccine looked like back in February and how it’s mutated today is very different,” Herman said. “Until we hit herd immunity, the virus is going to continue to go from host to host. And it’s going to continue to change. It’s complex. And that’s probably the biggest reason why we need to get the booster.”

To date, there have been 16 confirmed cases of the Delta variant in Genesee County, Bell-Brown said. And overall, cases are on the rise.

According to the Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions, 20.1% of Genesee County youth ages 12-15 are fully vaccinated. Approximately 45% of residents over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated.

While it is likely the CDC will recommend boosters for everyone, at this time those who are not immunocompromised do not need a third vaccine.  

GCHD urges residents to get vaccinated to continue fighting the spread. For more information, call the GCHD’s COVID-19 hotline at 810-344-4800.

Carmen Nesbitt

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...

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