3rd COVID vaccine dose recommended for heart transplant patients

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FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 file photo, vials for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are displayed on a tray at a temporary clinic set up by the New Hampshire National Guard in the parking lot of a high school in Exeter, N.H. The Food and Drug Administration ruled that transplant recipients and other similarly immune-compromised patients can get a third dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. But the decision, late Thursday night, Aug. 12, 2021, offers an extra dose only to those high-risk groups — not the general public. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

DALLAS, N.Y. (WWTI) — Health officials from across the country are recommending a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for some patients with weakened immune systems.

The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association is recommending a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for heart transplant patients and those with weakened immune systems. This recommendation was issued in a joint statement from the two organizations.

Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. This included those who have had a heart, stem or other organ transplant and are on immunosuppressive treatments, or who have weakened immune systems due to disease or other medical treatments.

These eligible individuals comprise approximately 3% of the United States population. It also include people living with HIV, those taking high-dose corticosteroids or immunosuppressive medications for rheumatologic conditions and those who have genetic conditions that weaken the immune system.

Both the AHA and ASA confirmed their support of these recommendations, specifically for those who have had a heart transplant or who have moderately to severely weakened immune systems. The organizations continue to urge all adults and children ages 12 and older in the United States to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Addressing this guidance, science leaders from both organizations issued the following statement:

As recently amended for emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the CDC, we urge heart transplant patients and all people in the U.S. who have moderately to severely compromised immune systems to receive a third dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine). Research indicates a third COVID-19 vaccine dose will provide people with moderately to severely weakened immune systems more protection against COVID-19 infection and reduce the risk of serious, prolonged illness if an individual contracts COVID-19. Please consult with a health care professional if you have any questions about whether a third COVID-19 vaccine dose is appropriate for you or a loved one.

We continue to recommend that all adults and children ages 12 and older in the U.S. receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can. The data continue to confirm that the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death. More than 99% of Americans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 have not had a breakthrough case of infection; however, more than 95% of the most recent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. are among people who are not vaccinated.

We also support the CDC’s updated safety recommendations due to the recent surge of the Delta variant: mask wearing for all people regardless of vaccination status when indoors in communities with ‘substantial’ or ‘high’ rate of COVID-19 infection, which represents more than 93% of U.S. counties. Additional important precautions include frequent handwashing and social distancing, combined with mask wearing and vaccination, all of which are essential to minimizing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 vaccination for as many people as possible is essential to protecting public health, saving lives and ending the pandemic.

President Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., FAHA, Immediate Past President Mitchell S.V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., FAHA, FAAN, President-Elect Michelle A. Albert, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, Chief Science and Medical Officer Mariell Jessup, M.D., FAHA, Chief Medical Officer for Prevention Eduardo Sanchez, M.D, M.P.H., FAHA, FAAFP

New York State also recently authorized a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for these eligible patients. This was approved by the New York State Department of Health on August 16.

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