News and Commentary

Report: Immunocompromised Individuals Seeking Out Fourth, Fifth Booster Shots Without Long-Term Data
hand of Doctor wearing surgical glove and certify Vaccination card and passport for first dose Vaccine Covid-19 (coronavirus) - stock photo skaman306 via Getty Images
skaman306 via Getty Images

A new report from The New York Times details how some immunocompromised individuals are taking their health into their own hands and attempting to get fourth and fifth COVID-19 vaccine doses without data about the longterm effects of such actions. 

According to The Times, the method has worked to a certain extent for some people who have compromised immune systems. While some doctors and patients feel that the governmental health agencies haven’t moved quickly enough to protect these individuals, the risks to such dosing are not fully known. 

On Sunday, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated that the country would be providing a fourth shot of the COVID-19 vaccine to people who are 60 years old or above. The shots will also be offered to medical employees. 

“The Omicron wave is here,” Bennett said in a televised press conference. He said the move to to give a fourth dose to certain people who got their final shot at least four months prior would give Israel “a new layer of protection.”

The Washington Post reported, “[a] fourth shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine generated a fivefold boost in antibodies a week after the jab, according to preliminary results of a study made public by the Israeli government Tuesday.”

In the United States, the CDC said in October that immunocompromised individuals could get a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Daily Wire reported at the time, “[t]he new guidance applies to moderately or severely immunocompromised people who have already received their original two shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine as well as a third shot of one of those mRNA vaccines. The immunocompromised may get a fourth booster dose six months after their original COVID-19 vaccination.” 

“In such situations, people who are moderately and severely immunocompromised may receive a total of four COVID-19 vaccine doses,” the CDC said.

Providers are required to sign a legal agreement in order to take part in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program. If they go against the guidelines of the agency, they could reportedly be removed from the program and even be prosecuted.

As NPR reported in September, the CDC warned providers against giving out vaccine doses against the guidance of the government since they could be sued or patients could have to deal with unanticipated bills. 

“These so-called ‘off-label’ uses include giving the vaccine out as a booster shot to people who are not immunocompromised, or using it to vaccinate children under the age of 12 for whom the shot is not yet authorized,” NPR reported at the time.

Around 1.14 million people had gotten one or more extra COVID-19 doses, according to CDC data from August, before boosters had been approved for adults.

While some note that there may not be a risk for people to get additional doses, others add that receiving additional shots too close together “could be counterproductive, according to Shane Crotty, a professor at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology’s Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research,” per The Times. 

The outlet noted, “This is because the immune system’s long-term memory seems to perform better if it can rest between two vaccines, he explained, and the body takes months to perfect its antibody-making process after an initial vaccination.”

The report comes as Americans question the extent of booster requirements and the effect such efforts will have on public policy. 

Top U.S. immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed the meaning of “fully vaccinated” on Tuesday, as reported by The Daily Wire. 

“We’re using the terminology now ‘keeping your vaccinations up to date,’ rather than what ‘fully vaccinated’ means,” Fauci said during a National Institutes of Health lecture Tuesday, according to Bloomberg News. “Right now, optimal protection is with a third shot of an mRNA or a second shot of a J&J.”

The Daily Wire noted, “Fauci’s comments followed word from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday that third shots of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine should be administered within five months after completing the initial two-shot series. That shortened the time frame by a month.”

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