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Idaho Medical Providers Gear Up To Offer Third COVID-19 Shots

A hand holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine between the thumb and index finger. Other vials with red caps can be seen beneath it in a bin.
AP Images

The Biden Administration is recommending an additional dose of some COVID-19 vaccines, but initially, only a small number of people qualify for the additional shot.

On August 12, the Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna-branded vaccines to allow a third dose to people with weakened immune systems, about 3% of the overall population.

“Studies have shown that some immunocompromised people do not mount as robust an immune response to the vaccines as people who have normal immune systems,” St. Luke’s Hospital System Medical Director Dr. Laura McGeorge said Thursday.

The group typically includes chemotherapy patients, organ transplant recipients or people on certain medications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a short checklist for people to see if they qualify, but the best way to know is to ask your doctor.

St. Luke’s said it’s waiting on a computer system upgrade before offering the additional shots, and Saint Alphonsus hospital systems is still taking names for a waitlist. Both health systems expect to begin offering the new doses in a few days.

Pharmacies Like Rite Aid, Fred Meyer and Albertsons are already offering additional doses, and Primary Health said it’s contacting qualifying patients to let them know they can walk in for a third shot.

The recommendation for everyone to receive a third dose eight months after a second Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna jab is under review by the FDA and CDC.

McGeorge said she expects that approval could be several weeks away - and that booster vaccines against COVID-19 could be a regular part of our lives in the years to come.

“As the virus continues to mutate, I would not at all be surprised if there are different annual vaccines or periodic vaccines for COVID,” she said.

No additional dose is recommended for people who received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.