Time For a Third Dose?

On Friday Sep 17th 2021 The FDA Advisory Panel made new recommendations about a third Pfizer COVID shot.  There was UNANIMOUS recommendation that those aged 65 and older be offered a third dose at 6 months following their second dose.  There was also UNANIMOUS recommendation that those at high risk of severe COVID-19, and those with high occupational exposure such as teachers or healthcare workers, be offered a third dose at 6 months.  There was another panel meeting this week along with a declaration from the CDC supporting a third dose of Pfizer 6 months after your second dose for MANY MANY Americans
To summarize, the following groups of Pfizer vaccine recipients are recommended to get a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine:
  • Anyone age 65 and older
  • Anyone working in front-line healthcare
  • Anyone working in front line education (teachers)
  • Overweight with BMI 30 or more
  • High risk Medical Groups (per CDC):
    • Immune compromise
    • Moderate or severe asthma or other lung disease (using a daily inhaler or worse)
    • Lung cancer patients
    • Kidney failure, kidney disease
    • Heart disease (coronary stents, heart attack history, cardiomyopathy, heart failure)
    • Diabetes
    • Dementia
    • Down Syndrome
    • HIV
    • Pregnancy
    • Liver Disease
    • Sickle Cell Disorder
    • Prior Stroke
    • Substance or Alcohol Dependent
That list is a whole lotta people!
Unfortunately the media paid closest attention to the panel’s vote against a universal third dose recommendation, and instead played it safe for now citing only those people in higher risk groups. But those high risk groups encompass about half the people!
Importantly, this recommendation was only looking at the Pfizer vaccine.  Moderna and J&J recommendations are pending.  There is strong feeling in the medical community that booster doses will be recommended to most all vaccine recipients once the full set of data is in.  The US medical institution though has a tradition of being very conservative and making recommendations for public health measures only after abundant evidence is reviewed.
The physicians at our office have either already gotten a booster or are planning to once available to them.