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Utah health dept. ready to administer third vaccine dose after CDC approval

Smith’s pharmacist Mark Welch prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination event at a church in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 20, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is ready to administer a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to people with compromised immune systems, according to the Utah Department of Health. 

After the CDC and FDA approved a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for those who are immunocompromised, the state health department said people could be rolling up their sleeves for the shot very soon. 

“I think we could be ready tomorrow,” said Dr. Leisha Nolen, Utah state epidemiologist. 

However, the agency is waiting on a final list of qualifying conditions before giving third doses a widespread green light. Regardless of that list, there is an abundance of available vaccines in Utah. 

“We have over 300,000 doses of vaccine here and ready to go,” explained Dr. Nolan. “We looked at our estimate of those who would fall into those immunocompromised conditions, and we have plenty of doses to give them all third dose of the vaccine.” 

She says people with compromised immune systems should see their primary care physician to determine if their condition warrants a third dose. If their doctor cannot administer the shot in their office, a patient can likely drive a few short miles to the nearest pharmacy to roll up their sleeve. 

Do the rest of us need a third dose? 

Some might wonder why only those with problematic immune systems will get the third dose. Dr. Nolen says it’s pretty simple: the rest of us don’t need it yet. 

“Most all of us in the community, two doses was good. Our body ramped up, we made antibodies. Our body knows now how to fight off the virus,” Dr. Nolen. 

A third dose might be necessary for the future. Dr. Nolen says the purpose of a booster is to fill in the gap as our body’s immune response to a virus wanes over time. 

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