Third Dose Of COVID-19 Vaccine Recommended & Available For Certain Immunocompromised Individuals

About 22,000 Montanans eligible for third dose for limited immunocompromised groups

Montana health care providers can now offer third doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to certain immunocompromised individuals following new recently announced federal recommendations.  

“This is great news because we know the impact COVID-19 has with high-risk groups,” DPHHS Director Adam Meier said. “The updated recommendations will ensure those most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 can get as much protection as possible.”

Meier said while authorized vaccines have proven to be more than 90% effective in protecting against most variants, emerging data suggest people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity compared to people who are not immunocompromised.

The CDC estimates that around 3% of those eligible for vaccination are in these groups, which is an estimated 22,000 Montanans.

Nationally, fully vaccinated immunocompromised people have accounted for a large proportion of hospitalized breakthrough cases (40-44%). Immunocompromised people who are infected with COVID-19 are also more likely to transmit the virus to household contacts.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccines for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised including people who have:

• Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or blood cancers.

• Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.

• Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking related 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 one’s immune response.

More information about the updated recommendations is available on the CDC website here.

DPHHS acting State Medical Officer Dr. Maggie Cook-Shimanek said people should talk to their doctor about their medical conditions to find out if an additional dose is appropriate for them. 

“People with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are at higher risk of serious, prolonged illness,” Cook-Shimanek said. “An additional dose could help prevent serious and possibly life-threatening COVID-19 infection in immunocompromised people. The vaccines continue to be very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 in individuals who are not immunocompromised.” 

Patients can self-attest and do not need to prove their diagnosis to be eligible for an additional vaccine dose.

While vaccination is likely to increase protection, people who are immunocompromised should also consider other protective measures such as wearing a mask, maintaining six feet of social distancing, avoiding crowds, and avoiding poorly ventilated indoor spaces to protect themselves and those around them. Close contacts of immunocompromised people are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The age groups authorized to receive the additional dose are unchanged from those authorized to receive the primary vaccination series:

• Pfizer: aged 12 years and older

• Moderna: aged 18 years and older

Additional doses should be administered at least four weeks after a person receives their second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. The updated guidance on the third dose does not apply to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

DPHHS is encouraging Montana vaccine providers to become familiar with the CDC’s recommendations and begin offering an additional dose to eligible individuals within this population as soon as possible. A notification has been sent to all Montana local county health departments and Tribal partners. 

DPHHS said there is sufficient supply of vaccine available in the state to provide these additional doses and to others who are unvaccinated.

The third doses will be available the same way Montanans are now receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, such as at pharmacies, clinics and other providers.

For more information on how to find a COVID-19 vaccine in Montana visit


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