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Third COVID-19 Shot Recommended For People With Compromised Immune Systems

Photo of a COVID-19 vaccination in Turkey by Yıldız Yazıcıoğlu via Wikimedia Commons.

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

A third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is now recommended for immunocompromised Kentuckians at least 28 days after a second dose.

Kentuckians with the following conditions should consider receiving a third dose:

• Active or recent treatment for cancer/malignancy.

• Solid-organ or hematopoietic stem cell transplants.

• Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).

• Advanced or untreated HIV infection.

• Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers and other immunosuppressive medications.

“This is for individuals who may not have received adequate protection from their initial primary vaccine series,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. At a press conference Tuesday, Stack said people with normal immune systems are not currently advised to receive an additional dose.

“Anyone with questions about their eligibility should talk with their health care provider,” Stack said.

Individuals who have received a Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine are not recommended to receive an additional dose. Third doses can be received by any COVID-19 vaccine provider that stocks the same mRNA vaccine that was used for an individual’s primary series (Pfizer or Moderna).

According to the state, COVID-19 cases in Kentucky children have increased more than 400 percent in the last month, from 133 July 16 to 548 Aug. 16.

The United States is reporting record COVID-19 hospitalizations in children. Alabama has reported it only has two ICU beds still available. Mississippi public health officials confirmed another child has died from COVID-19 complications, the state’s fifth pediatric death since March 2020.

A little over 2.4 million Kentuckians have received at least one vaccine dose. As of Aug. 15, there were only 17 Kentucky counties where at least 50 percent of residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

On Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear stressed the importance of getting vaccinated.

“COVID-19 isn’t just hitting adults. With the delta variant, your kids are at a greater risk than they have been before,” said Gov. Beshear. “Do the right thing: Get vaccinated, mask up in schools and in high-risk indoor settings. Protect our kids.”

In addition, as of Aug. 16, Kentucky had 17 pediatric admissions for COVID-19, the state’s highest ever total. The previous highest number was 12 admissions in December 2020. Of the 51 new cases reported by the Mercer County Health Department on Monday, Aug. 16, 13 of them were among children younger aged 18 and younger.

While some politicians have expressed doubts about vaccinations and other methods used to try to control the spread of COVID-19, the commonwealth’s leading politicians, both Democratic and Republican, are pretty much unanimous in asking people to get the shot.

Rep. Brett Guthrie, whose district includes Mercer County, released a statement about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent recommendation of a third COVID-19 vaccine dose for immunocompromised individuals.

“This is important for people who are organ transplant recipients, have certain cancers, or have other medical conditions that compromise their immune system,” Guthrie said. “COVID-19 vaccines work. The data from local health care providers and federal health agencies proves it. Unvaccinated patients represent the vast majority of hospitalizations from COVID-19 right now in Kentucky and across the country. With the Delta variant relentlessly spreading through communities across the country, I encourage everyone to get vaccinated for COVID-19. As always, if you have any questions, contact your health care provider.”

Sen. Rand Paul has said he doesn’t plan to get the coronavirus vaccine. Paul is the first known senator to be diagnosed with COVID-19, back in March 2020, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. In May, Paul was quoted as saying,

“All the studies show that I have just as good of immunity as the people who have been vaccinated.”
However, Paul has said that if people who were previously infected like him began becoming sick again at higher rates than those who were vaccinated, he may reconsider.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader and a polio survivor, was vaccinated in December 2020. McConnell said he plans to use money from his re-election campaign to run 60-second ads on more than 100 Kentucky radio stations to promote vaccinations.

In a July interview with Reuters, McConnell blamed low vaccination rates and skyrocketing infections on what he called bad advice.

“There is bad advice out there, you know. Apparently you see that all over the place: people practicing medicine without a license, giving bad advice. And that bad advice should be ignored,” McConnell said.

Kentucky Case Information as of Aug. 18
New Cases: 3,575
Positivity Rate: 12.863%
Hospitalizations: 1,658
Intensive Care Admittances: 466
On Ventilators: 229

Mercer County Case Information as of Aug. 17
New Cases: 32
Hospitalizations: 8
Active Cases: 207
Deaths (total): 54.
7 Day Average Case Count: 21.3
State information: Kentucky Department of Health. Mercer County information: Mercer County Health Department.
To schedule a vaccination, call 859-734-4522.

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