CDC reminds pharmacies of vaccine guidelines for immunocompromised

The CDC on Jan. 26 held a conference call with pharmacists to remind them that moderately and severely immunocompromised adults are eligible for a fourth COVID-19 shot, Kaiser Health News reported. 

Mitchel Rothholz, chief of governance and state affiliates for the American Pharmacists Association, was on the call and told KHN the CDC "reiterated the recommendations" and ran through case examples. Mr. Rothholz also said he asked for a guidance document "that clearly laid out the recommendations," so pharmacies "can clearly and consistently communicate" vaccination guidance for immunocompromised people to pharmacists. CDC officials said they would prepare such a document but weren't sure how long it would take. 

The call came a day after KHN reported some pharmacies were still turning down eligible people seeking a fourth dose, despite the CDC updating its guidance for people with suppressed immune systems in October. In August, the agency recommended this population receive a third dose of mRNA vaccine as part of their primary vaccination series and in October, said moderately and severely immunocompromised adults are eligible for a single booster dose, making it the fourth shot for some. Pharmacy leaders and physicians told the news outlet that pharmacists may not be administering fourth doses because they're either confused or unaware of the guidance. 

Ron Klain, White House chief of staff, ahead of the call tweeted "immune-compromised people should get the shots they need and that the CDC "is going to send stronger messages to pharmacies to make sure this happens." 

A CDC spokesperson told KHN it has been working to educate pharmacists and providers on the guidance since updating it in October. 

Following the call and other outreach efforts, Ameet Kini, MD, PhD, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Chicago-based Loyola University, said he hopes pharmacy chains that have been turning eligible people away will issue news releases and update their websites to reflect that they are offering fourth doses to immunocompromised people, and that pharmacies should update their patient portals to provide "clear guidance for their pharmacists."

 

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