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UPMC: If You Are Immunocompromised, Get A COVID-19 Booster Shot

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Local health leaders are stressing the importance of COVID-19 booster shots.

On Friday, UPMC doctors discussed the ever-changing federal guidance on those shots. They say if you are immunocompromised, get the shot.

The doctors do you want people to know if you are healthy, you should be protected.

"It really doesn't add something dramatically new. It's essentially a review system for your immune system," UPMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Donald Yealy said.

Dr. Yealy and UPMC Medical Director Dr. Graham Snyder said the shots will be an added layer of protection for people who are immunocompromised.

"It's not because we've seen a tremendous jump in protection from death or serious complications. It's really to get in front of it to keep that reminder for your immune system," Dr. Yealy said.

At this point, UPMC vaccine clinic leaders said they are only giving the boosters to the immunocompromised.

"What we're working towards, and we aren't there yet, is the expansion in approval for patients that are over 65 or between 18-64 that having an underlying comorbidity," Dr. Alfred L'Altrelli said.

Unlike when the vaccine was first released months ago, health officials said supplies are not an issue at this time.

"There is not a rush for this," Dr. Yealy said. "We will have a priority system sequence so we can manage getting extra doses to people. But it's not because there is a deficient in protection for the vast majority of the population."

Will there be a need for future boosters? Dr. Snyder said we still have to see just how strong the vaccines are.

"Vaccines do really really well at preventing hospitalization and death. We're just starting to see some signal of tapering off a bit," he said.

As for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine boosters, UPMC said information on that should be coming soon.

Meanwhile, the Allegheny Health Network said it is currently giving boosters to everyone approved by the CDC.

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