The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both have approved a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for people with weakened immune systems.
The approval of a third dose of the vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna is something San Francisco’s Lailani Graham has been closely following. She's among the 2.7% of adults who's weakened immune system's will make them eligible for the third shot.
"If they're like me, I had no reaction to either of the first two shots,” she said. “So, the opportunity to get a third is definitely exciting."
Graham is a heart transplant recipient, so she has to take drugs that suppress her immune system to keep her body from rejecting her heart. The hope is the third vaccine dose will help her body mount some kind of response to COVID-19.
But that doesn't come without risks.
"Particularly with a transplant. You don't want to stimulate other antibodies, because that could influence rejection," Graham said.
Graham said she is willing to take that risk to try to get back to a little bit of normality.
Now that the federal government has approved the third shot, local hospitals and medical groups are poring over the guidelines to determine exactly who can get it.
Dr. Ted O'Connell, who heads the Family and Community Medicine at Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo, gives his advice for those who are considering getting that third dose.
"My advice is if you think you are in one of these higher risk groups of immunocompromised individuals, touch base with your physician to see if you're a candidate,” he said.
Federal regulators are very clear in describing this as a third dose and not a booster because this latest approval is not intended for the general public, who might be worried their initial protection from COVID-19 could be waning.
Recent studies have shown people with normal immune systems still enjoy a strong resistance to the virus well beyond six months after their shots. But consideration of a booster may be taken up later.