The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. said yesterday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already approved booster shots for the immunocompromised, and these are now available for CNMI residents.
According to Dr. Lily Muldoon, CHCC Public Health medical director, these booster shots are strictly for those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.
“This has been approved by the CDC for people who are on cancer treatment, are organ transplant recipients, or who are on HIV or immunosuppressive drugs like high-dose corticosteroids. Those are the people that are considered to be moderately or severely immunocompromised and should work with their healthcare provider to get their [additional] dose,” she said.
Individuals who fall under these categories, Muldoon said, will only be eligible for their booster shot three months after the third dose.
In addition, only the mRNA vaccines were approved for this round of boosters, namely Pfizer and Moderna.
“They’re going to be eligible for their fourth dose three months after their third dose and it should be one of the mRNA vaccines that’s the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine. We request people who think that they fit that criteria to have a conversation with your health care provider,” Muldoon said.
Muldoon said CHCC is highly encouraging all those who fit the criteria to get their booster shots, given the likelihood of a continuous increase in COVID-19 positive cases, as well future variants of the virus.
“Just given the likelihood that we will continue to see more COVID-19 cases and different variants impacting our community this year, I encourage all of you who fit that category to make an immediate appointment with your health care providers so that we can get you boosted. Doing it sooner rather than later is very important,” she said.
CHCC CEO Esther Muña said that only those who receive recommendation forms from their healthcare providers will be given a second round of boosters.
“We have a fourth dose referral form. Vaccine recipients are encouraged to speak with their health care provider about their medical condition or conditions, and whether getting a fourth dose is appropriate for them. This form will be shared with all providers, including CHC providers, as well as private providers so that they can complete a document,” she said.
These recommendation forms, Muña said, are what individuals will show vaccination sites in order to receive the second round of boosters.
“There will be information on [those forms] regarding what the recommendation is for and if the patient actually meets the eligibility for the fourth dose. Once that form is completed, then [recipients] can bring that to either a community outreach center, the mass vaccination site located at the [Pedro P. Tenorio] Multi-Purpose Center, or to an immunization clinic,” she said.
According to a press release from CHCC, people aged 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and received a mRNA vaccine for their primary series (Pfizer or Moderna) should receive a total of four doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
The four doses are made up of a primary series of three doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, plus one booster of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, the fourth dose. The mRNA booster will be given at least three months after third dose of a mRNA vaccine.
People ages 18 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and received the first dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine should get a second dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines).
They should also receive a booster (mRNA COVID-19 vaccine) in most situations given at least two months after a second dose—for a total of three doses.