On Thursday, August 12, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a third vaccine dose for immunocompromised individuals—roughly 3% of Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to diseases and their effects. This latest FDA authorization aims to help protect these individuals from the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant.
The FDA expanded the emergency use authorization for both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to allow for a third dose in certain cases. A potential candidate may be someone with an organ transplant, HIV or a history of cancer, among other conditions.
“We’ve been concerned about these [immunocompromised] individuals. We’ve been following them closely, and I think most of us believe that we’ve got to do more to protect these individuals.”
– U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, in an interview
Some health experts say the immunocompromised population is too diverse to conclude that a third vaccine dose will be beneficial to everyone. However, some studies indicate that certain people with weakened immune systems may see improved protection with a third shot. This latest FDA authorization will provide doctors the ability to recommend an additional vaccine dose to their patients who may need it.
Based on current research, additional vaccine doses seem overwhelmingly beneficial for some individuals. In fact, some White House health experts are debating whether vaccine booster shots may be needed among more Americans in the near future, going so far as to prepare for that potential scenario.
However, individuals should first speak with their primary care physicians before determining whether they should seek an additional vaccine dose.
Employers should stay tuned for more vaccine updates in the coming months, including revised vaccination guidelines. In the meantime, employers can continue encouraging vaccinations among their employees, as that is the best way to combat the spread of the Delta variant.