What’s the difference between a third dose and a booster shot?

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Federal officials announced plans for COVID-19 booster shots for everyone who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. It comes shortly after a third dose was recommended for immunocompromised people.

Doctors are distinguishing a booster shot and a third dose. Simply put, the difference involves who you are and when you can get it.

“To clarify, what has been authorized now is a third vaccine for the immunocompromised so those people who are immunocompromised as defined by your doctor are eligible to get another dose and that is recommended to be the same brand you had before,” Dr. Denise Johnson, Acting Physician General at Pennsylvania Department of Health said.

Health officials say people who are immunocompromised didn’t get an adequate immune response from the first two doses. They can get a third dose as soon as four weeks after getting a second shot.

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“The third dose in that series is really intended to provide them with the same level of protection that someone who has a normal immune system would’ve gotten with two doses,” Stephanie Andreozzi, Vice President of Operations of Primary Care at WellSpan Health said.

On the other hand, a booster is for those who are not immunocompromised and would get the additional shot eight months after their second dose to keep their immune levels high enough to stay safe.

“We anticipate it’s going to be the same vaccine, just given as a booster dose to keep us protected from all of the various strains,” said Andreozzi.

WellSpan Health says it’s already scheduling third dose appointments for those who meet the CDC’s criteria. As for booster shots, those could begin next month for those who were in the very first vaccination phase. When it’s your turn to get a booster, you can get it anywhere and should get the same brand you got before.

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