The Alabama Department of Public Health announced today that people with immune systems weakened by cancer treatments, organ transplants, HIV, or other conditions are eligible to receive third doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
For those with compromised immunity who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, ADPH said today it has not yet been determined whether a second shot would provide an improved antibody response.
ADPH is not yet recommending third shots for the general public. However, the Associated Press reported that health officials are likely to issue a general population recommendation for third shots. The third shots would come at least eight months after the second shot.
The eligibility for third shots for people with weakened immunity follows the guidelines of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ADPH said.
People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems make up about 3% of the population but about 40-44% of those hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the ADPH.
The third shot should come at least 28 days after the second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. It should be the same vaccine as the first two shots.
The ADPH advised people seeking a third shot to consult with their doctor, who can provide a prescription for a third shot. Or they can go to a COVID-19 vaccination site and self-attest that they are eligible for the additional shot because of weakened immunity.
ADPH provided a list of conditions that could weaken immunity and make people eligible for a third shot:
- Active or recent cancer treatment.
- Organ transplants or hematopoietic stem cell transplants.
- Severe primary immunodeficiency.
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection.
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, tumor-necrosis blockers, and other biologic agents that may suppress immune response.
- Chronic medical conditions such as asplenia and chronic renal disease.
Slightly less than 36% of Alabama’s population is fully vaccinated. Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations have surged across the state over about the last six weeks, fueled by the low vaccination rate and the Delta variant.
Today, the ADPH reported 4,023 new cases, with Jefferson County leading the way with 559. Reported deaths in Alabama now stand at 11,832, with 33 added in the last day. About 2,600 people were hospitalized with COVID, approaching the peak of 3,100 in January.