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Some may need 4th COVID vaccine, CDC says

A local doctor explains who the latest guidance will impact.

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that some may need a fourth shot. The latest guidance only impacts those that are considered moderately to severely immunocompromised. 

It was only about three months ago that the CDC began recommending a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for those who were immunocompromised. The agency said that population was more vulnerable to the virus and that two doses may not give them a complete immune response. Now, the agency is recommending a fourth dose.

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Executive Director of the COVID Task Force at Piedmont Healthcare Dr. Jayne Morgan said the fourth dose will serve as a booster for this population.

“Three doses for the immunocompromised is equal to two doses for the rest of the population, so the booster for the immunocompromised will actually be their fourth dose," explains Morgan.

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According to the agency, people over 18 who may get a fourth dose include those who are HIV positive or battling AIDs, people battling cancer and transplant patients, and those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system. The agency also said only about 3% of the adult population falls under this category.

“We saw especially with this last Delta surge that those who were fully vaccinated and immunocompromised will still 400 times more likely to have a breakthrough infection as those that are fully immunized and not immunocompromised," explains Morgan.

The CDC said the timing for these doses is critical. Each Moderna dose should be spaced at least 28 days apart, and Pfizer doses should be spaced at least 21 days apart. The fourth dose should come at least six months after the third.