WEST VIRGINIA (WDVM) — West Virginia is now administering third shots of the COVID-19 vaccine to some people; but who is eligible to receive the third dose?
In his press briefing on Monday, Governor Jim Justice announced that third shots of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are available for immunocompromised people but there’s still some uncertainty about who exactly falls in that category.
The third shot currently being given out does not work the same way as a booster shot does. The third shot will give people with weakened immune systems the same protection against the COVID-19 virus that other people had after just 2 shots of Moderna or Pfizer. A booster shot only helps if given after a certain period of time has passed.
“Where others of us would’ve got the 94, 95 percent from Moderna or Pfizer, they came in much lower just to begin with with the two-dose series,” said Angela Gray, nurse director of the Berkeley-Morgan County Health Departments.
If you are uncertain if you should get a third shot or not, the health department says you need to ask your health care provider. Most of the people who fall in the third shot category have been diagnosed with a condition that weakens their immune system or are being treated with medicine that impacts their immune system.
“Obviously if you have these conditions or are on these medications you are seeing a doctor or a provider and they can help you understand yes this is you,” said Gray.
If you try to get a third shot of the vaccine and you don’t have a weakened immune system, it actually might decrease your level of protection against the virus over time, especially if you just completed your vaccine series a couple of weeks or months ago.
“It won’t be beneficial for someone to run here just to get a third dose because they’re scared and they just finished their series three months ago… They already have their protection onboard and it weans over time so that third dose isn’t going to hurt them but it’s not going to help them if they boost too early,” stated Gray.