CHCC still awaiting word from CDC on booster shots
A third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine is now available in the CNMI but only for those who are immunocompromised—those with weakened immune systems. Still, those who fall in this category are urged to first consult their doctors if they need the third shot.
Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther Muña made clear yesterday that the additional COVID-19 vaccine shot that is currently available for moderate to severely immunocompromised individuals is not a booster shot but is a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
When asked about booster shots for the CNMI, Muña said she and CHCC are currently waiting on official word from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the matter.
According to the CDC website, third vaccine doses are sometimes needed when certain individuals— such as the moderate to severely immunocompromised—do not build up enough, or if any, protection against disease after their initial round of vaccination. In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic and COVID-19 vaccines, for individuals in this situation, CDC recommends receiving a third shot of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least 28 days after receiving the second dose of an mRNA vaccine.
Booster shots, however, refer to a supplemental dose of a vaccine given to an individual who has built enough protection against a disease after their initial round(s) of vaccination, but then that disease protection wanes over time. On its website, the CDC says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is working on a plan to roll out booster shots sometime in the fall.
In line with the CDC’s recommendations, Muña advised those in the CNMI who are moderate to severely immunocompromised to first check with their healthcare providers to determine if receiving a third shot is appropriate and to consult the CDC’s criteria for those who need additional shots. If a third shot is deemed appropriate, these individuals can then complete a consent form and then receive their third shot at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center or any of CHCC’s ongoing vaccination sites.
CDC’s examples of persons with weakened immune systems include those with HIV/AIDS; cancer and transplant patients who are taking drugs that deliberately suppress their immunity system; and those with genetically inherited diseases that affect the immune system.
The CDC’s recommendations for determining if an individual would need a third vaccine shot include those who have:
Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood;
Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system;
Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system;
Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome);
Advanced or untreated HIV infection; and
Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
On the topic of a future COVID-19 booster shot, who it will be available to, and when booster shots might be rolled out in the CNMI, Muña said she and CHCC are preparing for any official decision and announcement from the CDC, and said that CHCC will make an announcement once booster shots are available in the CNMI.