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Third dose questions answered

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COVID-19 vaccine

U.S. health officials recommend a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

The delta variant of COVID-19 is raging across the world and top health officials said people will need a third dose of the vaccine soon.

According to top U.S. health officials, these booster shots will begin to roll out next month.

“We are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease,” according to a statement from officials such as CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock and White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout.”

While information was widely spread about the first two doses, there’s still many unknowns about the third. Here’s what the experts are saying about it:

Can people get it now?

Much like the first two doses, immunocompromised people are the priority group for the third jab. According to a statement from the CDC last week, people with the following medical conditions are now authorized to get the third dose:

  • People who are receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood.

  • People who have received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.

  • People who have received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.

  • People with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).

  • People with advanced or untreated HIV infection.

  • People with active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response.

What are the side effects?

According to the CDC, there is not much information about the risks involved with the third dose, but the “the safety, efficacy, and benefit of additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine in immunocompromised people continues to be evaluated."

As for side effects, they said they were similar “to that of the two-dose series." The common side effects for the second dose were moderate fatigue, chills, pain at the injection site.

Why do we need a third shot?

The third dose is needed due to the highly contagious nature of the delta variant. Cases and hospitalizations are the highest they’ve been since last winter. While the vaccine protects against COVID-19 transmission and severe symptoms, the immunity isn’t permanent.

“There is a concern that the vaccine may start to wane in its effectiveness,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. “And delta is a nasty one for us to try to deal with. The combination of those two means we may need boosters, maybe beginning first with health care providers, as well as people in nursing homes, and then gradually moving forward.”