GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — When it comes to a potential booster for the COVID-19 vaccine, the only measure being discussed in the U.S. now is an additional shot for a very specific group of individuals.
Dr. Haney Assaad, the chief medical officer for North Ottawa Community Health System in Grand Haven, said immunocompromised people would be eligible if the COVID-19 booster shot became available in the country. He added that group of people makes up about 3% of the U.S. population.
“People with malignancy or cancer, people who are on chemotherapy, people with blood disorders or people on medication for immune suppression; transplant patients because they’re on immunosuppression for their transplants,” Assaad listed.
He said he believes the way the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking at it is that people who are immunocompromised may not have as strong of a response to the first two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine as people who aren’t immunocompromised.
If the Food and Drug Administration gives the OK to that additional shot, a CDC committee, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, would weigh in to determine who should get it and when. The ACIP is scheduled to meet Friday to discuss whether a booster is necessary.
Toni Bulthuis, immunization supervisor at the Ottawa County Department of Public Health, said the agency has to follow that committee’s guidelines when it comes to vaccinations, boosters included.
“Those guidelines would come from the ACIP, which they’ve done in the past and that’s what (the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services) did when the COVID-19 vaccine came out,” Bulthuis said.
Bulthuis said the health department has received requests and phone calls from people wanting to get a third shot, pretending they haven’t already received the first two. There’s an easy way to check if they have and those people have all been turned down. She added some people have said a doctor told them certain groups would eventually need a third shot or that they’ve seen on the news European countries have booster shots approved.
So far, the U.S. has not approved a booster dose, though Pfizer is seeking approval for a third shot.
Michigan is still working to get at least 5.6% more of its population age 16 and up to receive at least one dose to reach its goal of 70%.