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American Heart Association: 3rd COVID-19 vaccine dose recommended for heart transplant patients, others with weakened immune systems


Wed, Aug 18th 2021 10:55 am

Statement from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems, including those who have had a heart, stem cell or other organ transplant and are on immunosuppressive treatment, or who have weakened immune systems due to disease or other medical treatment including active cancer therapy.

Eligible individuals may comprise approximately 3% of the U.S. population and also includes people living with HIV, those taking high-dose corticosteroids or immunosuppressive medications for rheumatologic conditions, and those who have genetic conditions. The new CDC guidance does not recommend an additional COVID-19 vaccine for any other population nor for anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Related to this guidance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued amendments to the emergency use authorizations for the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna to allow certain immunocompromised individuals to receive a third dose of the same mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in addition to the initial two doses received.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives, supports the new recommendation from the CDC for people who have had a heart transplant or who have moderately to severely weakened immune systems to receive a third mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose. We remain concerned about the significant disparities in COVID-19 vaccination in different populations. Therefore, we continue to urge all adults and children ages 12 and older in the U.S. to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can, as recommended by the CDC and authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The following statement reflects the views of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and its science leaders:

  • President Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., FAHA,
  • Immediate Past President Mitchell S.V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., FAHA, FAAN,
  • President-Elect Michelle A. Albert, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA,
  • Chief Science and Medical Officer Mariell Jessup, M.D., FAHA, and
  • Chief Medical Officer for Prevention Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, FAAFP.

As recently amended for emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the CDC, we urge heart transplant patients and all people in the U.S. who have moderately to severely compromised immune systems to receive a third dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine). Research indicates a third COVID-19 vaccine dose will provide people with moderately to severely weakened immune systems more protection against COVID-19 infection and reduce the risk of serious, prolonged illness if an individual contracts COVID-19. Please consult with a health care professional if you have any questions about whether a third COVID-19 vaccine dose is appropriate for you or a loved one.

We continue to recommend that all adults and children ages 12 and older in the U.S. receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can. The data continue to confirm that the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death. More than 99% of Americans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 have not had a breakthrough case of infection; however, more than 95% of the most recent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. are among people who are not vaccinated.

We also support the CDC’s updated safety recommendations due to the recent surge of the delta variant: mask wearing for all people regardless of vaccination status when indoors in communities with “substantial” or “high” rate of COVID-19 infection, which represents more than 93% of U.S. counties. Additional important precautions include frequent handwashing and social distancing, combined with mask wearing and vaccination, all of which are essential to minimizing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 vaccination for as many people as possible is essential to protecting public health, saving lives and ending the pandemic.

Additional resources:

The AHA receives funding primarily from individuals. Foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific programs and events. The AHA has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and biotech companies, device manufacturers and health insurance providers and the association’s overall financial information are available here.

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives and includes the American Stroke Association. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public's health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1. 

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