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Both the U.S. Federal Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have approved a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised individuals.

Dr. Bob Keenan, Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Bob Keenan, Chief Medical Officer

“We know many of our cancer patients are not able to mount an immune response even after the second vaccine due to medications or underlying disease,” said Dr. Bob Keenan, chief medical officer at Moffitt Cancer Center. “It’s not a booster for the immunocompromised, it’s a third dose. They need the third dose to mount a response.”

For more information on what conditions or treatments can make you moderately or severely immunocompromised, click here.

There is also good news for the general population. Because recent studies show COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against infection declines over time, the CDC has approved booster shots for the general population to boost the immune system back up to the protective level. The boosters will roll out Sept. 20 and should be given eight months after an individual’s second dose.

This news comes as a relief to many as the Delta variant sweeps through the United States.

“These variants pop up because a virus can circulate in communities at high enough levels and mutate when they have hosts like us to get into,” said Keenan. “As long as those conditions occur, we will see more mutations.”

According to the CDC, more than 166 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated as of Aug. 9, 2021. While breakthrough cases are possible, they occur only in a small percentage of vaccinated people, and those who are vaccinated have a significantly reduced risk of hospitalization or death.

Here’s what you need to know about your next dose of the vaccine:

Do I need to get the same vaccine as my first two doses?
The CDC recommends you get the same type of vaccine. For example, if your first two doses were Pfizer, you should try and receive a Pfizer vaccine for the third dose or booster.

What if I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
As of now, there are no recommended booster or additional doses for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

When should I get the next shot?
If you are immunocompromised, you should get a third dose of the vaccine as soon as possible to help increase the chance you mount a response. For the general population, the CDC recommends receiving a booster shot eight months after your second dose.

Can I get my third shot at the same time as the flu shot?
The CDC has changed its guidance and now says that it is OK to receive both vaccines at the same time.

Could I have a reaction to a third dose?
While it’s possible to have some reactions to a third dose — such as fatigue, headache and muscle aches — it should be similar or less than your reaction to the second dose. It’s important to remember that even if you had an unpleasant reaction after the second dose, vaccination minimizes your risk of getting COVID-19 and protects you from more severe cases.

The FDA has granted full approval of the Comirnaty/Pfizer-BioNTech two-dose vaccine for people 16 and older. It is still under emergency use authorization for youths 12 to 15, as well as for a third dose for certain immunocompromised individuals. The FDA is expected to give the Moderna vaccine full approval in the coming weeks. If you are still unsure about vaccination, reach out to people you trust and seek out information from reputable sources. In addition to vaccination, it is important to continue social distancing and wearing a mask in appropriate settings.

Moffitt is offering a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for immunocompromised patients and staff. You must have received your first and second doses at Moffitt to be eligible.

Vaccination clinics will be held at two locations:
Moffitt Cancer Center on USF’s campus
8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, Stabile Research Building atrium
* Starting Sept. 4: 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Blood Draw

Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center at the McKinley campus
8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, second floor, room 2201 (formerly Lori’s Gifts), adjacent to Rehab Services & PAT
* Please check in first with Central Registration on the first floor

Eligible patients will receive a call to schedule their third dose. To check eligibility, send a message to your health care team through the MyMoffitt Patient Portal or call 813-745-8000 to have a message relayed to your provider.

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