OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington Department of Health recommended on Saturday that people with weakened immune systems get a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as the delta variant surges in the U.S.
The state’s recommendation comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that immunocompromised Americans can get an extra dose of the vaccine for better protection.
“A third dose of Pfizer or Moderna will provide those who need it extra protection and help shield some of our most vulnerable from the highly contagious delta variant,” Washington Secretary of Health Umair Shah said in a statement Saturday. “Science continues to show vaccines are the best tool we have to protect our communities and slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The FDA’s announcement applies to about 3% of U.S. adults who are especially vulnerable because of organ transplants, certain cancers or other disorders. Several other countries, including France and Israel, have similar recommendations.
Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grappled with exactly who qualifies before unanimously endorsing the FDA’s decision.
It’s “an important step in ensuring everyone, including those most vulnerable to COVID-19, can get as much protection as possible from COVID-19 vaccination,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement after signing off on the recommendation.
The third shot is not considered a booster, but rather an additional dose for some who did not develop adequate immunities from the initial two-dose series, health officials said.
People should get the third doses at least 28 days after getting second shots, officials said. The FDA made no mention of immunocompromised patients who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.