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CDC’s advisory committee votes unanimously to recommend a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines

BREAKING NEWS: CDC’s advisory committee votes unanimously to recommend a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines for immunocompromised Americans

  • The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously on Friday to recommend third doses for immunocompromised Americans
  • ACIP was unable to recommend third doses until the FDA expanded emergency use authorization of the vaccines to be administered as boosters
  • Past studies have found that, even after being fully vaccinated, people with weakened immune systems have low or undetectable antibody levels

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) advisory committee has recommended that immunocompromised Americans receive a third COVID-19 vaccine dose. 

On Friday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously that certain patients with weakened immune systems can get a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

It comes one day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the  emergency use authorizations to allow the shots to be administered as boosters. 

Until the FDA announced its decision, ACIP was unable to recommend third doses, a necessary step before pharmacists or clinicians can immunize patients. 

As many as three percent of all Americans are considered immunocompromised due to cancer treatment, autoimmune diseases, HIV or other ailments.

In the past few months, several studies have suggested that immunocompromised people don’t have as much protection after being fully vaccinated as healthy people.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously on Friday to recommend third doses for immunocompromised Americans. Pictured: A vial of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, April 7

Previously, health experts had said that there was no evidence  to suggest that fully vaccinated Americans needed booster shots.

However, more and more research has shown that people with weakened immune systems have low or undetectable antibody levels, even after two doses.

study in May found that all cancer patients developed fewer antibodies after being vaccinated compared to healthy participants and 10 percent barely developed antibodies at all.

Another study in June looked at 30 organ transplant recipients and found that 24 developed negative antibody levels – meaning they did not have any immune-fighting cells – after two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

The findings are worrying because immunocompromised people are already at an increased risk of hospitalization or death from the virus.

This makes COVID-19 immunity even more crucial for this population. 

However, third doses may be a way to boost antibody levels. 

For example, the study about organ transplant patients found that one-third of patients with negative antibody levels from the first two doses now showed an increase after a third dose.

Now that ACIP has made its recommendation, CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky must sign off before patients can be given extra doses.

It’s unclear when this will occur, but Walensky will likely do so either this evening or over the weekend.  

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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