On September 3rd, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball was joined by Howard County Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman to share information regarding third doses for immunocompromised residents and preparation for booster shots in the coming months. People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems are currently eligible for a third shot at this time and can find a clinic nearby at vaccine.howardcountymd.gov. For the general population, booster shots have not yet been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but will be recommended many months after residents received their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Photos of the event can be found here.
“We know that for many of our older adults and seniors, who were some of the first to receive their vaccines, are feeling anxious,” said Ball. “We anticipate that booster shots will begin to be available by the end of September or early October, but we are waiting for the final approval from the FDA. Howard County has led the state on our vaccination efforts throughout this year, and we have the infrastructure in place to handle 3rd doses for immunocompromised residents and booster shots for the general population throughout this fall and winter.”
This week, Howard County became the first Maryland jurisdiction to reach 70% of all residents fully vaccinated. Additionally, 83% of eligible residents (12 years and older) are fully vaccinated, and 88% of eligible residents have received at least one dose. Since shots have become widely available, residents can now access shots at daily clinics, pharmacies, and most urgent cares and doctor’s offices.
“Third dose vaccine for immunocompromised individuals is now widely available through the Health Department and other vaccination sites across the County,” said Howard County Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman. “Anyone with questions about eligibility should speak with their healthcare provider to determine if an additional vaccine dose would be appropriate for their specific condition. While preparations are underway to provide booster shots to additional populations when authorized, FDA guidance is needed before plans can be finalized.”
“The Department of Community Resources and Services, Office on Aging and Independence (OAI) is pleased to be at the forefront of the booster clinic planning with our partners,” said OAI Administrator Jenna Crawley. “We believe it is essential to take vaccine boosters into the community to ensure optimal access for Howard County older adult residents. When boosters are approved for the general public, our office will work with the Howard County Health Department and the Department of Fire and Rescue Services Mobile Integrated Community Health team to provide booster clinics at senior apartment buildings, small assisted living homes and 50+ centers.”
People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and may not build the same level of immunity to two-dose vaccine series compared to people who are not immunocompromised. This additional dose is intended to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series. Although the Center on Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend additional doses or booster shots for any other population at this time, Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced a plan to begin offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots this fall. CDC recommends that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Currently, CDC is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose. This includes people who have:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
Residents should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them.
To view more frequently asked questions about third doses, please read the Health Department’s FAQs here.
Note: Photo in this article was form the Howard County to Provide Update on Vaccination Equity on March 8