RI begins administering third dose of COVID vaccine to immunocompromised


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — About 35,000 Rhode Islanders are now eligible to receive a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the R.I. Department of Health.

This comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a third shot of the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for those who are moderately, or severely immunocompromised.

Immunocompromised Rhode Islanders who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not currently eligible for a booster shot.

On Saturday, eligible Rhode Islanders could receive their third dose at the Sockanosset Crossroads vaccination site and at hospital vaccination sites.

Those who got their vaccine say they feel a sense of safety being able to get the third dose including Laurie Fowler.

“I’ve been on immunosuppressant drugs for five years,” Fowler said. “I was concerned because of my immune disease and my medication that my response to the vaccine was not fully effective.”

Fowler says she knows firsthand how horrible this disease can be.

“I lost my mom to COVID so, you know, this is real, I don’t wanna take a chance,” she explained.

For those who are immunocompromised, their bodies may not have had high immune responses to the vaccines, leaving them more at risk for the virus, despite being fully vaccinated.

“I’m going to feel safer, I still wear my mask as you can see I am still very careful, I have a great niece who’s three years old I’m doing it for her. And I’m doing for those people who are also immunocompromised and I’m doing it for society,” Fowler said.

Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Phillip Chan says there will not be a supply issue and that there are more than enough doses for people to get their third vaccine.

Rhode Islanders can schedule an appointment to receive a booster shot at Sockanosset Crossroads through the state’s vaccine portal.

The Health Department said the state will be relying on the honor system when it comes to administering vaccines to the immunocompromised, adding that people will not be required to provide documentation of their health status.

Rhode Islanders considered to be moderately to severely immunocompromised are/have:

  • 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)

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