Doctors say two doses of COVID-19 vaccine may not be enough for immunocompromised people

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A Juarez senior citizen receives a COVID-19 vaccine in the parking lot of Benito Juarez stadium on Monday, April 12, in Juarez, Mexico.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A recent Washington Post report suggests that people who may be immune deficient or taking immunosupprescent drugs may not be effectively protected from COVID-19 after two doses.

The report references a study of immune system responses in blood-cancer patients at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which showed 46 percent of those tested did not develop antibodies to fight COVID-19 after receiving two doses of the vaccine.

However, lots of questions remain if this affects most or only some who are immunocompromised, as earlier clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine did not study the effects of the vaccine in people with this condition.

Early studies in immunocompromised people are showing some promise, however, for some patients.

The report references a man who failed to generate antibodies after getting two doses of Pfizer, but after receiving a third dose of Johnson & Johnson, finally did produce antibodies that could fight off COVID-19.

Dr. Gill Wright with Metro Public Health Department tells News 2 that in this case, he doesn’t believe the man referenced in the report developed immunity due two getting two different vaccines, but that the man did get enough doses to finally cause an antibody response.

“He probably would have become immune if he got a 3rd Pfizer dose,” Dr. Wright said.

Dr. Wright says anyone who is immunocompromised who has questions about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine should talk to their doctor.

“Their provider could decide to give them another dose or to test them for antibodies if they have reason to believe they may not develop immunity,” said Dr. Wright.

At this time, it is still recommended that people with healthy immune systems only receive two doses of Moderna or Pfizer, or the single dose of Johnson & Johnson.

A third vaccine dose hasn’t been widely studied to suggest that it would increase effectiveness. Many questions also remain between healthy and immunocompromised people regarding the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in producing long-term results and if they can effectively fight the infection in everyone that has been vaccinated.

Experts agree that the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine in immunocompromised people will vary depending on the person, their illnesses, and any immunosuppressant treatments they may take. Only the individual’s doctor can make the determination of what is best for them.

It is still recommended that everyone receive the COVID-19 vaccine, not just to protect themselves but those around them, including the immunocompromised.

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