Southern Indiana

Southern Indiana health departments are starting to administer third doses of COVID-19 vaccines to some residents this week.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that certain immunocompromised people receive COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. 

“That’s transplant patients, chemotherapy patients and things like that,” said Clark County Health Officer Dr. Yazel. “And that’s going to start moving as people get eight months out from their initial vaccine series that a booster’s recommended.”

Both Clark and Floyd counties are using the CDC’s eligibility criteria. It includes people with the following conditions.

  • People in active cancer treatment; those who have received organ transplants and are taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • People who have received CAR-T cell or blood stem cell transplants
  • People who suffer from moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as those with DiGeorge or Wiskott-Aldrich syndromes)
  • People with advanced, untreated, or unknown status HIV infection
  • People taking 20 milligrams or more of prednisone or similar corticosteroid every day, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, severely immunosuppressive cancer chemotherapeutic agents, TNF blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory.

About 3% of the American population fits the criteria, according to the Floyd County Health Department. That means about 2,300 people in Floyd County could receive a third dose.

Yazel said he expected booster shots would become a necessity at some point this fall, but the rise in the spread of the delta variant sped that timeline up. Eligibility could eventually expand, but Yazel said it’s important to prioritize people who are at higher risk of complications from the virus.

“Basically, different people are going to respond to the vaccine series differently,” Yazel said. “And if your immune system is a little weaker, those are the ones that are at risk of a vaccine lack of protection first.”

People who want a booster should do so no earlier than 28 days after their second dose. The only vaccine not recommended for a booster shot is Johnson & Johnson. The Clark County Health Department is only offering boosters of the Pfizer vaccine currently.

Indiana’s moving average for daily COVID-19 cases 2,529, the highest level since last winter. The moving average for daily cases has more than doubled since the beginning of August.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.