For immunocompromised, potential booster shot is a lifeline

ATLANTA — A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee is expected to approve COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for people with weakened immune systems soon.

Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon was at Piedmont Hospital Thursday, where Dr. Ray Rubin said people who need the booster should be able to get it quickly. That’s partly because so many people have refused to get vaccinated, so the supply is still available.

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“As you know since the uptake of the vaccination hasn’t been what we had hoped, there is available supply of additional vaccinations,” Rubin said.

The boosters will be made available for anyone with a weakened immune system, like people with a history of cancer or organ transplant recipients.

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Rubin said that a booster for that population could be the next big step towards healthy people getting a booster, too.

“As you know, that’s part of an on-going study by Pfizer to determine whether otherwise healthy individuals need a booster, and at what point that booster makes sense,” Rubin said.

Channel 2′s Tony Thomas was in Gwinnett County, where he talked to Lynda Freeman, who had a kidney transplant. She’s vaccinated, but the shots aren’t as effective with her compromised immune system.

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Freeman sheltered in her house while waiting for the transplant, which she got in May 2020, right after COVID-19 hit. Since then, she’s only gone on an occasional morning grocery store run or to a doctor’s appointment.

“I want to live, and I want to be able to live outside my house,” Freeman said. “I have been waiting for this booster ever since they mentioned there may be a booster.”

With a booster, Freeman’s doctor said her vaccine will likely be 95% effective, a high enough percentage for her to venture out.

“As soon as the boosters are approved, I will first pray to thank God that it’s available, then I will pray that I get an appointment,” Freeman said.

She said the first thing she’s going to do is water aerobics and take a walk in the park.

Freeman has already tried to schedule her booster shot, but was told that until it is approved, CVS is not scheduling them.