What’s the difference between COVID-19 vaccine’s third dose and a ‘booster shot’?

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – “I know it’s kind of easy to use the term ‘third dose’ and ‘booster’ interchangeably but there is a little bit of a difference,” Communicable Diseases and Epidemiology Nurse Amy Carter tells ABC4. With the recent approval of a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and the possibility of a booster dose coming soon, health officials want Utahns to know the difference between the two.

Utah Health departments, like Weber-Morgan Health Department where Carter works, now offer a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Why is the third dose just for the immunocompromised?

According to the Center for Disease Control, the third dose is for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised due to them being “especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness.”

The CDC also “recommends that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose” of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The CDC considers this third dose part of the initial vaccine series and does not consider it a booster.

Carter explains people who are immunocompromised are often vulnerable to COVID-19 even after a second dose because “their body isn’t able to build the same amount of protection compared to someone whose immune system is functioning as normal.”

If a booster dose is approved, who will be able to get it?

The CDC ” does not recommend additional doses or booster shots for any other population at this time.” However, a booster dose may be approved this fall. If so, the CDC will most likely recommend it for the more general population, but the booster dose will be administered eight months after the second dose. This wait is because the booster dose aims to boost the body’s immune response after it has waned after time.

When a booster dose is approved, health departments will learn how it should be rolled out. “There is a little bit of discussion about prioritizing those who may be at highest risk or those who were kind of prioritized to get the covid vaccine,” Carter says. ” (They) are kind of going to be those first ones in line for that booster.”

According to the CDC, that seems to be what will most likely happen. On CDC.gov it reads: “If FDA authorizes and ACIP recommends a booster dose, the goal is for the first people eligible for a booster dose to be those who were the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccination (those who are most at risk). This includes healthcare providers, residents of long-term care facilities, and other older adults.”

Currently, the CDC does not recommend more than three doses of the mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) vaccine for anyone. However, testing is still being done on the effects of a booster dose and more information will be released to the public soon.

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