What Is the Difference Between the Third Dose and Booster COVID-19 Vaccine?
Ochsner Health is now administering the third dose and booster COVID-19 vaccine for those who meet certain criteria laid out by the FDA, CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health.
What is the is the difference between a booster shot and a third dose?
We understand that the terms “third dose” and “booster shot” can cause some confusion. While they may seem similar, these terms are not interchangeable.
The term “third dose” is used for vaccinations for immunocompromised patients. A third dose of the vaccine is designed to be identical to the first two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to protect people with a weakened immune system who did not have a strong enough response to the first two doses of the mRNA vaccine. Both the Pfizer and the Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are available as third doses.
The “booster shot” is designed to help people maintain immunity for a longer period once the initial doses’ protection has begun to decrease. Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved to be used as a booster shot, administered at least 6 months after the second dose. At this time, CDC and FDA have not authorized booster shots for those who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine. While the CDC says it anticipates booster shots will likely be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, additional data will need to be reviewed before the determination is made.
It is important to note that patients must get the same brand of vaccine as their first two doses, whether they are getting the third dose or booster shot.
What does the third dose do?
The third dose of both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines will help immunocompromised patients increase their antibody levels against COVID-19. Immunocompromised patients are some of the most susceptible to the serious effects of COVID-19. The continued aggressive spread of the Delta variant makes it critical to provide them with all the information and resources they need to stay safe and healthy.
What does a booster shot do?
The booster shot is intended to “boost” the initial two doses’ long-term protection. As the Delta variant remains the dominant strain in the U.S. and cases of COVID-19 continue to rise significantly across the nation, a booster shot will help strengthen protection against severe disease for those at high risk for exposure to COVID-19 or the complications from severe disease.
At this time, only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot is available as a booster shot. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s booster shots are expected to roll out at a later date. Therefore, only patients who have received the first two doses of the Pfizer vaccine can receive the Pfizer booster shot at this time.
Do I qualify for the third dose?
Patients who have an eligible medical condition that causes a suppressed immune system can begin to receive a third dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine 28 days after the second dose.
The following is a breakdown of the criteria established by the CDC to determine if you qualify as an immunocompromised individual.
People with medical conditions or people receiving treatments that are associated with moderate to severe immune compromise as follows:
- Receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are currently taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the past two years or are currently taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (greater than 20 milligrams of prednisone or equivalent per day), biologic agents or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
- Other conditions that cause moderate or severe immunosuppression similar to the above conditions
We encourage you to talk with your healthcare provider about your medical condition to see if getting an additional dose is appropriate for you.
Do I qualify for the booster dose?
On Friday, Sept. 24, the Louisiana Department of Health approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for certain groups six months after receiving their second dose. This includes,
- 65 years and older
- 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
- 18+ who work in high-risk settings (This can include but is not limited to healthcare workers, first responders, teachers, grocery store workers, hospitality industry, etc.)
- 18+ who live in high-risk settings (any place where COVID-19 might spread more easily due to environmental factors)
What is the process for scheduling an appointment?
If you qualify as an immunocompromised individual or fall in the eligibility criteria for a booster shot, you can schedule your vaccine appointment today through MyOchsner or by calling 844-888-2772. Ochsner Health will begin administering third dose and booster shots to individuals at our regularly scheduled vaccination events across the state.
When you log in to MyOchsner, you will choose “Schedule an Appointment.” Then click the tile/button labeled “COVID Vaccine + Booster.”
Those who do not have a MyOchsner account can sign up at ochsner.org/myochsner. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ups are welcome.
Increasing vaccinations bring us closer to reaching the threshold of vaccinated Louisianans and Mississippians needed to slow the spread and put an end to community transmission. It will take all of us working together to educate, encourage and persuade more of those living in our communities to get vaccinated. The key to ending this pandemic is at our fingertips, and your hard work and dedication make a difference.
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit: https://www.ochsner.org/corona....