With about 22,000 Montanans in an immunocompromised category, the state health officials have recommended a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to them. Previously vaccinated immunocompromised people have accounted for about 45 percent of the recent "breakthrough" COVID cases in the U.S.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services announced the move this week, following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). DPHHS Director Adam Meier said in a news release that the third dose is not considered a booster, but an additional dose for those who might not have enough protection from the two-dose series. The recommendation does not include the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Meier said, "This is great news because we know the impact COVID-19 has with high-risk groups. The updated recommendations will ensure those most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 can get as much protection as possible."

Those who could benefit from the dose include people:

  • Who are under active cancer treatment for tumors or blood cancers.
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
  • Received a stem cell transplant in the last two years or are taking related medicine to suppress the immune system.
  • Have moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency such as DiGeorge or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome.
  • Have advanced or untreated HIV infection.
  • Are undergoing active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress one's immune response.

People who think they fit in those categories should talk to their doctor to determine if the additional dose is appropriate. There is a sufficient supply of vaccine in the state and you should stay with the brand of doses you originally received. For Pfizer, those aged 12 years and older and for Moderna, those aged 18 and older. The vaccinations will be available at pharmacies, clinics and other providers.

The Ravalli County Public Health Department will start scheduling doses the first week in September, according to a news release from Director Tiffany Webber. If you need more information call 406 375-6672 or you can find more information at the Ravalli County website.

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