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Immunocompromised & Considering a Covid Booster

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As an immune-compromised person, I’m faced with a big decision to make:  Do I get an extra Covid vaccine booster…or not?

I know I am considered high risk but the Johnson & Johnson injection I received last March made me soooo sick.  I was down for 8 days and going through that again does not excite me.

Yet, CDC data shows that “People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems may not build the same level of immunity to 2-dose vaccine series compared to people who are not immunocompromised.”

What You Must Know about a 3rd Vaccination If You Are Immunocompromised

It is known that being immunocompromised puts us more at risk for severe illness and possible death from Covid than the general population.  Studies have shown that the initial vaccine dosage was less effective for us than others.  It is also believed that a booster shot will give us more protection. 

According to “The NY Times,” if you received the Pfizer or Moderna two doses, you can now get a third injection 8 months after the first two shots to boost your immunity.  For cancer patients or transplant patients or those with autoimmune diseases, this is excellent news.

Who Qualifies for the Booster?

Currently, the CDC considers the following groups eligible for the 3rd Covid shot:

  • 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 2 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
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

Nearly 14 million of us Americans received the Johnson & Johnson, one-shot vaccination.  According to the U.S. Surgeon General in a White House news briefing, they anticipate that we will need that booster shot eventually.  But for now, that option is not available.  Johnson & Johnson is still conducting tests to determine what’s needed.

The Decision I Made

Yesterday, my primary care physician gave me lab orders to get my antibodies tested.  I was told to go to a particular laboratory for this test because not all labs use the same machines/methods.  He hopes that since I had such a strong reaction to the first J & J injection that my antibodies may be more than we think. 

Once that piece of J & J information is known, then I can decide what to do about an additional vaccination.  Apparently, some people have been mixing the brands and adding a Pfizer booster to their previous J & J vaccination.  I may decide to wait for the Johnson & Johnson to complete their testing and stick with that one, but at least I know the option to switch is available.

What You Can Do

Speak to your PCP about your personal situation. Then make your decision based on knowledge and not on media hype.  Don’t let anyone make your decision for you.  After all, they don’t have to live with the consequences.  If you are immunocompromised, please pay attention to your physician.  In this case, he or she should provide the expert advice needed.

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