GREAT FALLS — In September 2021, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention issued new recommendations for certain people to receive a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Cascade City-County Health Officer Trisha Gardner says the booster is an added protection for people who may not be able to provide a response to Covid that people with healthy immune systems could make.
“There’s evidence to show that individuals with immunocompromising conditions may not mount the same level of a response with the shots, so this adding an extra dose to help increase that response our body makes and protect them further,” Gardner said.
The City-County Health Department in Great Falls is now offering third doses or booster doses as set forth below.
The CCHD said in a news release that at least 28 days after the second dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, a third dose is available to people with moderately or severely compromised immune systems. To be eligible, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- 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 (i.e., ≥ 20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), 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
Additionally, a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, at least 6 months after completion of the primary two-dose series, is available to the following:
- People 65 years and older
- Residents in long-term care settings
- People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions (see below)
- People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions (see below), based on their individual benefits and risks
- People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting
The CDC has identified the following underlying medical conditions that may increase the risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma (moderate-to-severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
- Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other neurological conditions
- Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
- Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
- Liver disease
- Obesity or overweight (BMI > 25 kg/m2)
- Pregnancy or recent pregnancy (42 days following the end of pregnancy)
- Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
- Smoking, current or former
- Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
- Stroke or cerebrovascular disease which affects blood flow to the brain
- Substance use disorders, such as alcohol, opioid, or cocaine use disorder
If you are eligible, you can visit MTreadyclinic.org to schedule a third dose or booster dose, or email CCHD at email@example.com with your name, date of birth, address, phone number, and any relevant health conditions.
If you do not have access to a computer or internet, call the CCHD at 406-791-9250 and leave a voicemail with the same information and a CCHD representative will contact you to schedule. Scheduling online is preferred to prevent overloading the phone line.
Additional doses or boosters of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine have not been approved at this time, and you should not “mix and match” vaccines from different manufacturers.
If you are unsure whether you are eligible for a third dose or booster dose, talk with your physician or other healthcare provider before scheduling an appointment.