The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized a third dose of COVID-19 for certain people with compromised immune systems. The move will allow a third dose of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, and applies to certain immunocompromised people.

Who are immunocompromised people?

Immunocompromised is a broad term which means that the immune system is weaker than expected and not functioning properly.

You may also hear the terms immunodeficiency or immunosuppressed. These terms mean you have a higher risk of getting an infection and becoming sick. However, it’s possible to be immunocompromised to different degrees.

According to Health Line, being immunocompromised can be due to many causes:

  • chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, HIV, and cancer
  • autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • medications or treatments, such as radiation therapy
  • transplants, such as bone marrow or solid organ
  • advanced age
  • poor nutrition
  • pregnancy
  • a combination of any of the above

Who might be immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system?

CDC identifies immunocompromised people as follows:

Examples of persons with weakened immune systems include those with HIV/AIDS; cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs; and those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system (e.g., congenital agammaglobulinemia, congenital IgA deficiency).

The risk of developing severe disease may differ depending on each person’s degree of immune suppression. Following all the recommendations in this fact sheet can be a great personal burden, so consult with your healthcare provider to determine whether your medical condition makes it advisable to follow all of these recommendations.

FDA authorizes third vaccine dose

A third dose of Covid-19 vaccines applies to certain immunocompromised people, including those with organ transplants and those “diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise,” the FDA said.

The agency emphasized that the general public does not need a third dose at the moment.

CDC last week said about 2.7 percent of U.S. adults are immunocompromised. Federal health officials officials emphasized the group is small.

“The country has entered yet another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the FDA is especially cognizant that immunocompromised people are particularly at risk for severe disease,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock.

He added: “After a thorough review of the available data, the FDA determined that this small, vulnerable group may benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Vaccines.”

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