CDC committee will meet to consider whether COVID vaccine booster is needed for weak immune system

CDC advisory committee will meet next week to consider whether a COVID-19 vaccine booster is needed for people with weak immune systems

  • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet on July 22 to advise on whether a third dose is necessary for immunocompromised people
  • People with weakened immune systems less likely to develop a high antibody response as the general population
  • This patient population is also more likely to suffer from negative health outcomes from COVID-19 
  • Between 2% and 4% of Americans are immunocompromised, and will be effected by the decision 

An independent panel of experts will meet next week to determine whether COVID-19 vaccine booster shots should be available for people with weak immune systems. 

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will discuss the issue on July 22 and send recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This will affect between two and four percent of immunocompromised Americans who live with conditions including HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes or certain genetic disorders.

Studies have shown that some people with weakened immune systems are less likely to develop the same level of antibodies as others, leaving them potentially vulnerable to the virus. 

No matter the recommendation made by the committee, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will need to eventually approve a third dose of the vaccine.

Some health officials have said that there is no need for the third dose, though. 

A CDC advisory panel will meet later this month to advise on whether a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine should be recommended to immunocompromised people

Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer – the developer of the most commonly used vaccine in the U.S. – has repeatedly said a third dose of the vaccine may be needed for all Americans in the near future.

He has even suggested that COVID-19 vaccines may be administered annually like a flu shot.

Derrick Rossi, co-founder of Moderna, said that a third dose will ‘almost certainly’ be needed as well. 

However, earlier this week, though, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there is not enough data to suggest fully vaccinated Americans need booster shots.   

The same may not hold true for those with compromised immune systems. 

Cancer patients do not develop antibodies at the same level as others, and around ten percent barely develop antibodies at all after receiving the vaccine a study from May found. 

A separate study last month  among organ transplant recipients – who developed lower antibody levels from the initial doses of the virus – found that the third shot of the vaccine increased their antibody levels up to 687-fold. 

Some organ transplant recipients did not develop antibody responses at all to the third dose, though. 

Immunocompromised people are also at an increased likelihood to suffer from hospitalization or death from the virus, making immunity from the virus even more crucial to them.

People with diabetes, for example, account for 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths despite only making up ten percent of the population.  

Officials from the CDC want to make sure that a third dose of the vaccine will not increase the likelihood for adverse reactions, though.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have launched clinical trials for a third dose of their vaccine.

The National Institute of Health is also testing whether mixing vaccines for the third dose – giving someone who received Pfizer for their first two doses the Moderna for their third – could be an option, or potentially even preferable, for a third dose.

Currently in America, 48 percent of the total population and nearly 60 percent of adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Around three percent of Americans fall into the category of being ‘immunocompromised’ and will be effected by the decision made by the panel’s nine members.