Fourth doses of COVID vaccine available for some immunocompromised people

Posted at 2:17 PM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 18:37:47-05

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — While 5-11 year olds start getting their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, others are wanting a fourth to try and keep up their immunity.

“I’m just like please please let me have something to protect me,” said Marla Mulcahy.

Mulcahy, who lives in Baltimore County, got a lung transplant four years ago. Her medications suppress her immune system, making her more susceptible to severe COVID-19.

She got her third dose of Moderna in August and by October, testing showed she had no antibodies.

She’s ready if and when the doctors give her the go ahead to get a fourth dose.

“I would be running there,” said Mulcahy.

Johns Hopkins lung doctor Panagis Galiatsatos said a very low immune response is rather common in lung transplant and cancer patients

To boost their immunity, they are starting to offer fourth doses to immunocompromised people on a case by case basis, assessing antibodies levels and prevalence of COVID-19 where they live.

“For these patients who can’t mount the immune response we want, we have those conversations about getting them an another booster but it’s done at the same time with touching base with all of their loved ones and saying, ‘You gotta vaccinate for mom. You gotta vaccinate for dad’,” said Dr. Galiatsatos.

He said there is plenty of supply for the fourth doses in conjunction with boosters and pediatric vaccines. Now it’s just about getting the demand, working to reach the 14 percent of Marylanders 18 and older who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet.

“It’s great if you protect yourself, but if that’s not what you’re doing it for, then there are some people and they can’t help what they have, they can’t change it and the only thing they have is the good graces of other people,” said Mulcahy.

Dr. Galiatsatos said reach out to your doctor to talk about a fourth dose if you’re worried about waning immunity.

Booster shots are currently available for people 18 and older who got their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna at least 6 months ago, or who got Johnson and Johnson at least 2 months ago.