Who is considered immunocompromised?
You are considered immunocompromised if you:
- Have been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant
- Received a stem cell transplant
- Have primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, Bruton’s agammaglobulinemia, or severe combined immunodeficiency)
- Have advanced or untreated HIV infection (CD4 count < 200)
- Are being treated with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
Learn more about who is considered immunocompromised. If you are unsure whether you should get a third shot, please ask your doctor or provider.
I am immunocompromised – when can I get a third dose?
- Pfizer and Moderna: You can get a third dose of the same vaccine you received for your first two doses 28 days after you get the second dose.
- Johnson & Johnson: If you received Johnson & Johnson, you can get a second dose of any vaccine two months after the single shot.
What is the difference between a third dose and a booster?
For people who are immunocompromised, it is called an additional or third dose. People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised may not have built enough protection after the first two shots. The third shot dose is intended to improve your immune response.
For people who are not immunocompromised, it is called a booster. It is intended to raise (“boost”) the level of protection when it is has decreased over time so that it will be stronger and last longer.
Is the third dose the same as the first two/original dose?
Yes, for immunocompromised people the third dose of Moderna or Pfizer, or the second dose of any vaccine for those who received Johnson & Johnson, is the same as the original dose(s).
What vaccine should I get for my third dose if I originally had Johnson & Johnson and I’m immunocompromised?
You can get any of the available vaccines for a second dose – Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. You can get the second dose two months after the first one.
Can I “mix and match” vaccines and get a different kind for my third dose?
For people who are immunocompromised, a third dose of the same mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) should be used. It is not recommended you mix vaccines. If you are immunocompromised and received Johnson & Johnson, you can mix vaccines. You can get any of the three available vaccines for a second dose – Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson.
Can I get a fourth dose?
Not at this time. It is possible that the FDA and CDC will authorize and recommend a fourth dose for immunocompromised people in the future.
Will another dose increase my protection against COVID-19?
Vaccine studies have found that sometimes immunocompromised people don’t build the same level of immunity after vaccination as non-immunocompromised people. If you are immunocompromised, you will benefit from an additional vaccine dose to ensure adequate protection against COVID-19.
Why do I need another vaccine dose?
If you are immunocompromised, you cannot fight infections and diseases as well as other people. In addition, your body’s ability to produce protective antibodies after being vaccinated may not be as strong. In studies, some immunocompromised people who had low or no protection after the first two doses of mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) had an improved response after an additional dose of the same vaccine. Many people who had low or no antibodies developed protective antibodies after receiving the third shot.
How does being immunocompromised affect me when it comes to COVID-19?
People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness.
What are the risks of getting an additional dose?
The safety profile is the same as for the first and second vaccine doses. Studies with immunocompromised people did not show severe adverse effects after a third dose.
Side effects reported after the third mRNA dose were similar to that of the two-dose series: fatigue and pain at injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most symptoms were mild to moderate.
Will the third shot improve my protection against the Delta variant?
Yes, it will improve your protection against all strains of COVID-19, including the Delta variant. It will also reduce the chances of getting very sick, if you do contract COVID-19.