PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - With COVID cases packing hospitals, there is talk of another dose of the vaccine. KDKA learned some UPMC patients were getting notes of a fourth vaccine dose on their portals.
We spoke with doctors from UPMC and the Allegheny Health Network to see who needs these shots. They said only people who are immunocompromised need the doses.
"It is truly that first booster for that patient population," Allegheny General Hospital Director of Pharmacy Dr. Arpit Mehta said.
He said the primary vaccine for people who are immunocompromised was three shots as opposed to other people only needing two.
"No reason to panic, so to speak," Dr. Mehta said about scheduling a fourth dose appointment.
He said a bigger concern for most people should be getting their shots and a booster.
"The focus right now is just getting the third dose before we even begin to worry about a fourth dose," Dr. Mehta said.
UPMC Medical Director Dr. Graham Snyder said it's too early to know if everyone will everyone need a fourth shot.
"We haven't had COVID long enough to know what the right vaccine schedule is yet. It may change in the future," he said over Zoom.
He stressed that vaccines are working as scientists learn more about the need for future shots. In other countries, there is talk of everyone needing a fourth dose, but it's not recommended in the United States yet.
If you have your shots and booster, you're good.
"You're in great shape. Thank you for getting vaccinated. You're well-prepared," Dr. Snyder said.
UPMC patients will notice a note on their portal if they meet the criteria for the fourth shot. It will come after their primary doses are done.
"After five months have passed, it's time for a booster. That's how you can end up making it a recommendation for four doses," Dr. Snyder said.
AHN said their patients will have conversations with their doctors if they need the shot.
As for any timeline on when a fourth shot will be necessary for everyone, that's not known.
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