Olathe Health is now offering a third dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines to patients who are moderate to severely immunocompromised. This is in response to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s support for the expansion of emergency use authorization for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
Read the below Q&A with John Feehan, MD, Olathe Health family medicine physician and Olathe Health Physicians Medical Director, to learn more.
What is an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine?
mRNA is a type of vaccine that protects your body against infectious diseases like COVID-19. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are the only mRNA COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for emergency use authorization by the FDA. mRNA COVID vaccines teach the body to make the spike protein found on the Covid-19 virus, which triggers an immune response in our bodies and a subsequent recognition of the Covid-19 virus when exposed to it.
Who is eligible to receive a third mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose?
Patients who are moderate to severely immunocompromised are eligible to receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine 28 days or more after they’re fully vaccinated (have received the second dose of vaccine). To qualify for an additional dose, patients must have received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine for their first and second dose. The FDA allows for a substitution of either mRNA vaccine if the original brand is not available – since Olathe Health Physicians only has the Pfizer vaccine, our patients will receive the Pfizer vaccine for their third dose regardless of which mRNA vaccine was originally received.
If I received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine, can I get the additional dose mRNA?
Not at this time. Because there isn’t enough research on the benefits of an additional dose of the Janssen/J&J COVID-19 vaccine, the third dose is ONLY approved for patients who already received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) for their first and second dose.
How can eligible patients secure an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine?
Olathe Health’s primary care clinics are now administering additional doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to eligible patients (associates included). Eligible patients must call a clinic to schedule their appointment for a third vaccine dose. Upon approval, patients will need to sign a consent form. While documentation of a qualifying condition isn’t required, patients will also be asked to complete an attestation form for immunocompromised validity.
Do moderate to severely immunocompromised patients have to get an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated?
While the expansion of emergency use authorization for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines doesn’t change the current definition of who is considered fully vaccinated. Many immunocompromised individuals generated a lower initial immune response and may therefore have less overall protection against the virus. The FDA determined that a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine boosts immunity in moderate to severely immunocompromised individuals.