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All of us at Buffalo Toronto Public Media are heartbroken by the senseless tragedy that occurred in our great City on Saturday, May 14th. We are grieving with our community and are committed to helping it heal. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families, friends, and the employees and customers of Tops Friendly Markets.
Health & Wellness

COVID booster shots offered for those with compromised immune systems

A healthcare worker fills a syringe with vaccine
NPR
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Washington, DC is starting the process to make a booster COVID-19 vaccination available, starting with vaccinating those who have compromised immune systems.

In about a month, the third shots are going to start going into arms.

"Now, very appropriately, it's being prioritized for people who are immuno-compromised," said Dr. Brahm Segal, chair of Internal Medicine and chief of infectious diseases at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. "These are people who are at both higher risk for COVID complications and also because of their compromised immune system, have less ability to respond to the vaccine."

A compromised immune system can come about for many reasons, treatment for cancer, for example. It means that person is at higher risk for illness and infection.

Research since the vaccinations went into use show that some people's immune systems just didn't kick in after receiving the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, especially if those people were immuno-compromised. A statement Wednesday from federal agencies said protection begins to decline over time after the shot.

Segal suggested that eventually everyone will be allowed to receive that third shot — perhaps by the end of the year — and he says everyone should take it. There is a lot of vaccine available.

"There are so many areas in our country where there's very high rates of COVID. Fortunately, New York State is one of the lower ones, as are other Northeastern states. But the best opportunity that we have to protect ourselves as a community is to have durable, long-lasting immunity against COVID," Segal said.

The Erie County Department of Health said it will provide third doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to individuals 12 or older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised due to a medical condition, or who take immunosuppressive medications or treatments.

Patients will be asked to sign an attestation form to confirm that they have a medical condition or are receiving a treatment or medication that makes them eligible. Affected individuals are strongly encouraged to talk to their physician or health care provider about the risks, benefits and timing of a third dose of vaccine.

Third doses will be available every Monday-Friday from noon-4 p.m. at Erie Community College's South Building 7 (the old Department of Motor Vehicles) and at all other Erie County clinic sites. The County Department of Health COVID-19 Information Line is at (716) 858-2929.