The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously released guidelines outlining recommendations for a third COVID-19 vaccine dose for moderate to severely immunocompromised individuals to be administered at least 28 days after their second dose.
Subsequent administrations of the vaccine for non-immunocompromised individuals are referred to as booster shots. But a third shot is considered a third dose for those who are immunocompromised.
Starting as early as Sept. 20, all Americans will be able to receive a COVID-19 booster shot approximately eight months after receiving their second dose.
Because the booster shot has yet to be approved by the FDA for people who are not immunocompromised, University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said it is too early to make decisions regarding booster shots for many members of the University community.
“The university’s Campus Health Response Committee is following the public health guidance closely with regard to third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine,” Fitzgerald wrote in an email to The Daily. “So far, the ACIP has issued guidance for a third vaccine dose to individuals with weakened immune systems, but has not yet provided guidance for others. That means it is still too early to consider any changes to U-M vaccine policy until such guidance is issued by the ACIP section of the CDC.”
With the release of new data outlining a decrease in vaccine protection against COVID-19 infection over time and a surge in delta variant cases across the country, the CDC and the Biden administration have recommended booster shots for all vaccine-eligible Americans.
This recommendation came from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and is still subject to authorization by the FDA.
Some scientists and health professionals say the limited amount of studies showing the decrease in vaccine efficacy do not provide enough evidence to justify the need for booster shots. WHO officials have also said that offering third doses before all countries have an ample supply of first doses may not be ethical.
Dr. Pamela Rockwell, professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and co-chair of the U-M Immunization Committee, said she believes the new CDC recommendations are justified.
“The new data is showing a decrease in the efficacy in the vaccine to the delta variant,” Rockwell said. “Now that (the delta variant is) predominant in the U.S. and so many parts of the world, I think there is enough data to verify that the current vaccines that people receive do slowly reduce in efficacy over time.”
Rockwell also said this trend of decreased vaccine effectiveness is similar to why annual flu shots are timed around surges.
“You wouldn’t want to get your flu vaccine in January knowing that the flu season doesn’t start until the fall/winter because you could have a less effective vaccine,” Rockwell said. “(The decrease in efficacy) does depend on the vaccine type and what you’re getting vaccinated against.”
According to the CDC, because people with compromised immune systems may not have built resistance to COVID-19 from the initial doses, they must receive their third dose before being considered fully vaccinated.
Engineering sophomore Sophie Cronk said getting the third dose was important to her. As an individual with an autoimmune disease, Cronk met the FDA-approved qualifications for her third dose and said that, had she not, she would not have attended the fall semester in person.
“Getting a third dose was an encouragement for me to finally be on campus and feel safer and protected around the environment that we are creating here,” Cronk said. “The vaccine is bringing us a lot closer to a sense of normalcy. I am really thankful that I was able to get (my third dose).”
Daily Staff Reporter Nadir Al-Saidi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.