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VERIFY | 4th doses of COVID-19 vaccines are available, but only for this group

The CDC recommendation for a fourth COVID-19 shot only applies to people who would not likely respond to the standard vaccine series.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Research shows COVID-19 vaccines have made a big difference in saving lives and keeping people out of the hospital, but not everyone responds to the shots so robustly.

The standard vaccine series for the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, are two doses, three or four weeks apart, followed by a booster shot at least five months from the primary vaccine series.

The Question

Iris T. in Shelby, North Carolina, reached out to the WCNC Charlotte VERIFY team, asking whether she needed another COVID-19 shot this year. She noted she is a cancer patient in remission and is fully vaccinated and boosted.

So, can people get a fourth COVID-19 shot right now?

Sources

The Answer

This is true.

Yes, people can get a fourth COVID-19 shot, but only if they are in a select group.

"The fourth dose at this point is for the most immunocompromised folks," Priest said.

The CDC recommends people 12 and older with moderately or severely weakened immune systems get that fourth shot.

Priest said he works with several patients in this category and that extra dose is important for their immune systems, which can be more sluggish in responding to vaccines.

According to the CDC, fourth dose candidates are organ and stem cell transplant recipients, cancer patients actively getting treatment, people with HIV, and people taking any drugs that might suppress the immune response, including high-dose corticosteroids.

"I know there's some gray area there," Priest said. "So, we encourage people to talk to their doctors about whether they're a candidate for it."

The recommended four-dose series entails three mRNA shots spaced either three or four weeks apart, depending on the brand. The fourth dose, given three months later, is considered a booster.

Credit: CDC

The CDC guidance recommends those 5 to 11 years of age who are immunocompromised should get three doses of Pfizer, spaced out. There is no fourth-dose recommendation for this age group.

Contact Vanessa Ruffes at vruffes@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

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