NEENAH, Wis. – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise due to the more-contagious and more-severe Delta variant, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) have announced recommendations for a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine for a small group of individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.
Throughout the pandemic, ThedaCare has, and will continue to follow guidance from the CDC Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).
“We are committed to the practice of consistent, reliable, safe and effective distribution of vaccines to patients, team members and community members throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin,” said Mark Cockley, MD, ThedaCare Chief Clinical Officer and President of the Clinically Integrated Network. “We are currently offering the initial COVID vaccination series, and are developing plans to offer additional doses (third dose) and booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its Emergency Use Authorizations last week and recommended third doses of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) for those with immunosuppressive conditions that include, but are not limited to:
- Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
- Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
- Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory
According to the FDA, third doses are intended to help those with weakened immune systems catch up to the level of protection as people with healthy immune systems achieve in two. Patients requesting a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines will self-attest to their immunocompromised status to reduce barriers to receiving vaccine. The additional dose should be administered at least 28 days following the completion of the initial vaccine series. Patients who have received the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine are not authorized for additional doses at this time, per FDA’s guidelines.
ThedaCare plans to begin offering third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to those with immunosuppressive conditions starting the week of August 23, 2021. The additional doses will be administered at two Community Vaccination Clinics – ThedaCare Physicians-Appleton Gateway and ThedaCare Physicians-Neenah – as well as in primary care clinic locations that are currently able to provide the COVID vaccine during a patient’s office visit, and during vaccine-only appointments at ThedaCare Primary Care Clinics that are currently providing COVID vaccines to their patients.
Patients who meet the criteria can schedule an appointment at one of the Community Vaccination Clinics using My ThedaCare/My Chart, or by calling their primary care provider’s office. Individuals who meet the criteria and already have an office visit scheduled with their primary care provider can discuss the additional dose of vaccine with their provider, and may be able to receive the vaccine during their office visit.
Booster Doses for Ages 12+
Recently, U.S. health officials recommended COVID-19 booster doses for all Americans ages 12 and older. Under the plan, as outlined by the CDC and other health agencies, booster doses would be administered eight months after individuals complete the two-dose series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. The COVID-19 booster doses could be available the week of September 20, 2021, pending FDA approval and formal recommendations from the CDC and ACIP.
ThedaCare is currently developing a plan for administering booster doses in Community Vaccination Clinics, during primary care office visits, and by vaccine-only appointments. ThedaCare will continue sharing regular vaccine updates through the ThedaCare Facebook page and thedacarecovid19.org.
“We appreciate the community’s support as our teams work quickly to offer additional doses and booster doses of the vaccine to communities,” said Dr. Cockley. “Our most powerful defense against COVID-19 is the vaccine. By updating our plans and offering the vaccine at more locations, such as primary care clinics and pediatric clinics, it ensures our patients and community members have convenient options and easy access to the protection against COVID-19.”
In addition to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, ThedaCare also encourages community members to adhere to masking recommendations from the CDC, stay home when you are feeling sick, get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and physically distance when you are with others outside of your household.