Jan. 27, 2022 -- The CDC contacted pharmacies on Wednesday to reinforce the message that people with moderate to severe immune suppression should receive a fourth COVID-19 vaccine, according to Kaiser Health News.
The conference call came a day after the news outlet reported that immunocompromised people were being turned away by pharmacies. White House officials also emphasized on Wednesday that immunocompromised people should receive an additional shot.
During Wednesday’s call, the CDC “reiterated the recommendations, running through case examples,” Mitchel Rothholz, chief of governance and state affiliates for the American Pharmacists Association, told KHN.
While on the call, Rothholz asked for a “prepared document” with the CDC’s recommendations “so we can clearly and consistently communicate the message.” The CDC officials on the call said they would create a document but “don’t know how long that will take,” Rothholz told KHN.
The CDC recommends an additional shot -- or a fourth shot -- for those who have weak immune systems, which makes them more at risk for severe COVID-19 and death. About 7 million American adults are considered immunocompromised, KHN reported, which includes people who have certain medical conditions that impair their immune response or who take immune-suppressing drugs due to organ transplants, cancer, or autoimmune diseases.
The CDC first recommended fourth shots for immunocompromised people in October. This month, the CDC shortened the time for booster shots from 6 months to 5 months, and some immunocompromised people who are due for another shot have begun to seek them. The agency has been educating pharmacists and other health providers since then, a CDC spokesperson told KHN.
While patients don’t need to provide proof that they are immunocompromised, according to the CDC, some have been turned away, KHN reported.
To improve communication with the public, large pharmacies could issue news releases and update their websites “explicitly stating that they are offering fourth doses” to immunocompromised people, Ameet Kini, MD, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, told KHN.
Pharmacies should also update their patient portals and provide “clear guidance for their pharmacists,” he said.