People with certain conditions are now eligible for one extra dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), another dose can boost protection against COVID-19.
Cancer patients and healthcare workers are among those who qualify for another dose. Patients undergoing active mesothelioma treatment are also eligible.
The added protection of the extra dose is important for mesothelioma patients. These patients have higher than average COVID-19 risks. Getting vaccinated may provide peace of mind for many of these patients.
Which Vaccines Are Approved for an Extra Dose?
At this time, all three COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for an additional dose in qualified patients. For Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, that additional dose will be a third dose. For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the authorization allows a second dose.
FDA regulators evaluated study data before making these determinations. They found evidence that COVID-19 protections in vaccinated individuals decrease over time. Regulators also saw evidence that a supplementary vaccine dose improves protection against COVID-19.
With this information in mind, the FDA determined the benefits of a supplementary dose outweigh the risks. However, the FDA’s decision only authorizes one additional dose. Vaccine makers will need to seek further approval for additional doses in the future.
Who Is Eligible for a Supplementary Vaccine Dose?
Some individuals who previously received COVID-19 vaccines are now eligible for an additional dose.
COVID-19 Vaccine Additional Dose Eligibility Criteria
Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines
At least six months after completing the first two vaccine doses, the following are eligible for a third dose:
- People 65 years and older
- People 18 to 64 years of age with high risk of severe COVID-19*
- People 18 to 64 years whose job or living situation puts them at high risk of severe COVID-19
*This includes cancer patients and others with a weakened immune system.
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
At least two months after receiving the first vaccine dose, the following are eligible for a second dose:
- People 18 years and older
Some patients may have difficulty obtaining an additional dose of the first COVID-19 vaccine they received. In such cases, the FDA has authorized a “mix and match” approach. If necessary, patients may obtain an additional dose of any available COVID-19 vaccine, whether it matches their first dose or not.
Should Mesothelioma Patients Get Another COVID-19 Vaccine Dose?
Mesothelioma patients have a lot to consider when it comes to vaccination. First and foremost, COVID-19 poses serious risks for unvaccinated mesothelioma patients, including:
- A higher mortality rate than the general population
- Higher complication rates than the general population
- Higher hospitalization rates than the general population
Many patients have turned to the vaccines in light of these risks. Additionally, recent data surrounding mesothelioma patients and COVID-19 vaccination is promising.
At least one mesothelioma specialist saw much lower rates of COVID-19 infection in vaccinated mesothelioma patients versus unvaccinated. Study data also indicates the first two Pfizer vaccine doses provide protection against COVID-19. Furthermore, recent data shows improved protection after an additional dose of the vaccine.
Patients may also want to consider recommendations from official bodies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends an additional vaccine dose for individuals with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. This includes individuals receiving cancer treatment, such as mesothelioma treatment.
Any mesothelioma patient considering an additional vaccine dose should speak with their oncology team. The team can help the patient weigh the benefits and risks of the supplementary dose.
Note: The Meso Foundation recommends COVID-19 vaccination for mesothelioma patients undergoing immunotherapy treatment. The foundation has not yet made any statements about the supplementary vaccine dose.