COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots

There is a lot of talk about getting a 3rd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. People are wondering if the vaccine they received in March will protect them from the Delta variant that is spreading in Northwest Arkansas and around the world.

According to the CDC, the COVID-19 vaccines are working very well at helping protect against severe disease and death from variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 currently circulating, including the Delta variant. But do we know how long the protection lasts? Will we need to get a COVID shot every year like the flu shot? Infectious disease experts and scientists continue to study the virus and help answer these questions. 

The CDC may not recommend all adults have a booster shot this fall.  Some scientists argue that the vaccine is working well, and before we offer booster vaccines to protected individuals, we should focus on vaccinating the world population to prevent the spread of the virus. However, a third dose of the vaccine offers additional antibodies against the virus that some at-risk populations may need. 

Who should get a 3rd Dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine? 

According to CDC recommendations at this time, MANA is offering a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine to people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems at least 28 days after the second dose. This includes people that have: 

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking 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 your immune response

People should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them. 

Should I be worried about breakthrough infections?

Studies show that COVID-19 vaccinated individuals are still protected from serious illness and hospitalization from the coronavirus. Although breakthrough infections occur in vaccinated individuals, especially with the efficient Delta variant, the illness tends to be mild in healthy, vaccinated people under age 65.

“The COVID-19 Vaccine is doing its job of protecting you from a serious illness, ” says Dr. Chris Hardin, an Internal Medicine physician on the MANA COVID Task Force.  “Mild breakthrough infections were expected to occur,” he added.

Like people who have taken the flu vaccine and get sick with a different strain of the flu, people who have had the COVID-19 vaccine may test positive for the virus, but it is likely to be a mild illness and not require hospitalization or the risk of death. 

Will MANA offer additional groups the 3rd dose on September 20th? 

MANA will follow the CDC guidelines for administering the 3rd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. As the CDC changes their recommendations for 3rd dose of. the vaccine, MANA will also make updates to our policy to follow their guidelines.  Our physicians and COVID-19 Task Force are following the medical studies, scientific evidence, and health expert’s discussions closely. We will make announcements about any changes in our policy through email, social media, and on our website. 

Who may be eligible to receive a booster shot this fall? 

People may be eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot 8 months after they received their second dose of an mRNA vaccine (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) this fall. The CDC recommendation is pending as of September 9, 2021. The CDC will likely recommend those most at risk get the booster shot first. This high-risk group includes older adults, residents of long-term care facilities, and healthcare providers.

For more information, see the CDC COVID-19 Booster Shot FAQ.