Georgia Health Departments begin offering COVID-19 boosters to immunocompromised

Beginning Thursday, Aug. 19, health departments in the Coastal Health District will begin offering a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to people with compromised immune conditions.

It’s exciting news for Georgia, says Dr. Lawton Davis, health director for the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Coastal District.

Davis says while the third shot is still under the FDA’s emergency use authorization, the goal is to give those with weak immune systems an extra level of protection against COVID-19.

”We know that people with weakened immune systems do not develop the same level of protection from the primary series as do people who don’t have a weakened immune system,” Davis explained.

Health experts say people who’ve had organ transplants, blood cancers, and HIV, for example, are eligible for the third shot.

”By stimulating their immune systems a third time, what we’re attempting to do is afford them a better level of protection,” Davis added.

Davis doesn’t expect crowds of people like the first rollout of the vaccine brought back in December. He says patients will have to prove they’re immunocompromised by showing a doctor’s note to get the shot.

”Our best chance to stop the spread of COVID in general and the Delta variant, in particular, is to get a very high percentage of people vaccinated,” he said.

“If your immune system is compromised because of a medical condition or a medication you’re taking, this additional dose can help strengthen your body’s defense against this dangerous virus.”

More than 150 million Americans have gotten mRNA vaccines, far exceeding the 14 million who have received the Johnson & Johnson shot, according to The New York Times citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“For people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we anticipate vaccine boosters will likely be needed,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, said at a White House news briefing on Wednesday.

The first Johnson & Johnson vaccines were not administered until early March. If federal health officials recommend the same eight-month timeline between vaccination and booster shots, the first Johnson & Johnson boosters would most likely start in November, according to Dr. Dan Barouch, a virologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

To make an appointment for vaccination at your local county health department in the Coastal Health District, visit chdcovidvax.org or call the COVID-19 Vaccine Phone Line at (912) 230-9744.

Some vaccination sites allow walk-ins, but appointments are preferred at all sites and are required at the Long and McIntosh County Health Departments.

Samantha Mathers

Samantha Mathers, Action News Jax

Samantha Mathers is a digital reporter and content creator for Action News Jax.