Health

Americans ‘undercover’ the 4th and 5th dose of Covid-19 vaccine


Stacey Ricks, 49 years old, living in the US, has three different immunization green cards for not declaring her vaccination status to the doctor.

As a kidney transplant recipient and on immunosuppressive drugs, Ricks did not develop antibodies after the first two doses of the Moderna vaccine.

In June 2021, when health authorities had not yet approved the booster shot, she went to a hospital to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine without reporting the previous two doses. Therefore, she was granted an additional vaccination green card.

A month later, the doctor said that Ricks had not yet developed enough antibodies. She persuaded a pharmacist she knew to give her a dose of Pfizer – the fourth dose of the vaccine and received an additional injection certificate.

“Pharmacists kept saying, ‘I don’t have enough clinical data to do that.’ But I said ‘I’m the clinical data,'” she recalls.

Stacey Ricks is one of many immunocompromised people in the US who have ignored government guidelines and actively injected the 4th and 5th doses of vaccines against the regulations.

Normally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are responsible for determining who gets the booster vaccine. But some patients and their doctors feel federal officials are acting too slowly.

Stacey Ricks, 49, received four doses of the vaccine before the CDC’s recommended deadline. Photo: NY Times

Israel began administering a fourth dose of the vaccine from December 29 to health workers and people aged 60 and over, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. Meanwhile, the CDC updated its vaccination guidelines for the last time in October, stating that immunocompromised people are eligible for a fourth dose six months after the third. Thus, at least until the end of February 2022, this population group will be allowed to inject additional doses.

In the context of the emergence of the Omicron strain, vaccination rates in many areas remain low, and immunocompromised patients become anxious. Many people are unsure whether three shots of the vaccine are safe and effective enough.

It is generally the discretion of the physician to prescribe approved medications beyond their recommended use. Therefore, some people still inject the Pfizer vaccine to patients if it is appropriate.

However, injection units must sign a legal agreement with the CDC. If they break agency rules, they could be removed from the vaccination program, putting them at risk of prosecution. The CDC has also previously warned that if a doctor injects a patient with an unapproved vaccine and something goes wrong, they won’t be legally exempt. However, according to experts, government regulations are not enough deterrent.

It is not illegal for the person who goes to inject the fourth and fifth dose of vaccine. They could be subject to civil prosecution if the doctor decides to file a lawsuit for fraud, but this is rarely the case, according to Govind Persad, an assistant professor at Denver Sturm College of Law. Therefore, many Americans are still trying to get the 4th and 5th dose of the vaccine even though it is not yet 6 months old. After four shots of the vaccine, Ms Ricks developed “moderate” levels of antibodies, but not a “standard immune response”. She continued to take the same precautions as before receiving the vaccine.

According to medical experts, depending on the status of drug use, some immunocompromised patients never create a sufficient immune response, no matter how many shots of the vaccine are given.

The CDC has not yet commented on the illegal injection. But in October, the agency said moderate and severely immunocompromised people, ages 18 and older, could get a third dose of the vaccine at least six months after the first two. People with moderate and severe immunodeficiency can receive 4 doses of the vaccine by the end of February this year, depending on their doctor’s prescription. The agency cautions people to distinguish between “supplementary” and “booster” doses.

“Additional dose is used in people with moderate to severe immunodeficiency, to improve antibody response. A booster dose (booster) given when a person has completed the first two doses, potentially protective. of vaccines decreases naturally over time,” the CDC said.

Stacey Ricks' three different vaccinations followed two doses of Moderna, one J&J and one Pfizer.  Photo: NY Times

Stacey Ricks’ three different vaccinations followed two doses of Moderna, one J&J and one Pfizer. Photo: NY Times

The agency does not recommend that immunocompromised people receive both booster and booster doses, nor do they recommend vaccination before 6 months.

According to Shane Crotty, professor at the La Jolla Institute for Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, injecting a booster dose too soon can be counterproductive. The immune system’s long-term memory works better if there is a break between two doses of the vaccine, he explained. The body also takes many months to perfect the process of making antibodies after the first vaccination.

Dr. Lianne S. Gensler, a specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, said that if you do not want to receive too many vaccines, patients can choose to use monoclonal antibodies. The FDA in December approved antibody therapy specifically for vulnerable populations.

Thuc Linh (Follow NY Times)

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