© 2023 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

COVID booster shots offered for those with compromised immune systems

A healthcare worker fills a syringe with vaccine

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.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.