There has been some confusion as to the difference between a COVID-19 “booster” dose and an “additional” vaccine dose and how to define them. Currently, the CDC recommends a third dose — referred to as an additional dose — of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) be administered to patients who are moderate to severely immunocompromised (not inclusive of endocrine clinic patients):
- Receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Have received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Have received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Have moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency
- Have an advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Actively being treated with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress the immune system
Sometimes people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised do not build enough (or any) protection when they first receive vaccination. When this happens, getting another dose of the vaccine can sometimes help them build more protection against the disease. This appears to be the case for some immunocompromised people and COVID-19 vaccines.
If you are immunocompromised and believe you qualify for an additional dose, per CDC guidelines, please get your vaccine wherever available. Available options can be found at vaccines.gov, or at select Scripps HealthExpress locations through MyScripps.
This additional vaccine differs from the booster dose that has been recently recommended by the CDC for those individuals who received a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago and meet new eligibility rules. This includes frontline workers, patients over the age of 65, and patients 18 and older with underlying medical conditions or jobs that place them at higher risk.
As of now, the booster is only recommended for those who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. There is no guidance on the need for a booster dose of the Moderna vaccine, or the need for an additional or a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. We will keep you informed as developments happen.