RALEIGH — North Carolinians who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines can now begin receiving an additional dose to better protect themselves from COVID-19, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced today.
On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the Emergency Use Authorizations for both vaccines to allow for the use of an additional dose in some immunocompromised individuals, which was then recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Friday. A full list of conditions can be found on the CDC’s website. People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised make up about 3% of the adult population in the U.S.
According to the CDC, emerging data suggest some people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity after vaccination compared to people who are not immunocompromised. In addition, in small studies, fully vaccinated immunocompromised people have accounted for a large proportion of hospitalized post-vaccination cases.
“This additional dose will offer valuable protection to those who need it, especially as we face a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, NCDHHS State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer. “I encourage those who are eligible to get this additional dose. In addition, if you are not fully vaccinated, please do so now to protect yourself and others – like those who are immunocompromised – from severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.”
An additional dose of the same brand of vaccine is recommended for moderately to severely immunocompromised people at least 28 days after they’ve completed their initial two-dose series to help increase the body’s immune response. The same vaccine brand should be used unless unavailable, in which case either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can be used.
The Moderna vaccine is available to those 18 and older, while the Pfizer vaccine is available to those 12 and older.
Studies supporting this change were specific to people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and the authorization and recommendation for the additional dose is limited to this population. Additional doses should only be provided to people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. Patients may self-attest to their medical condition.
Providers can find information from the CDC at Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States.
Immunocompromised people eligible for an additional dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines should contact their health care provider or they can visit MySpot.nc.gov or call 888-675-4567 to find a vaccine location near them. Supply of vaccine in the state can accommodate providing this additional dose for immunocompromised people.
It is not recommended that immunocompromised people who were vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine get an additional dose at this time. There is not enough data on the safety and effectiveness of an additional vaccine dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for it to be authorized. This recommendation may change as more data is available.
All unvaccinated North Carolinians age 12 and older are encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death. Rigorous clinical trials in more than a hundred thousand people have proven vaccines are safe and effective. Almost 200 million Americans have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Research has shown even people who had a mild case of COVID-19 may struggle with long-term effects like shortness of breath, chest pain and brain fog.
To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities, NCDHHS also recommends that everyone wear a mask in indoor public spaces if you live in area of high or substantial levels of transmission as defined by the CDC until more people are vaccinated and viral transmission decreases. In North Carolina, that is now all 100 counties.
To get a vaccine near you, visit MySpot.nc.gov or call 888-675-4567. You can also text your zip code to 438829 to find vaccine locations near you.