KC hospitals ready to administer booster shots for immunocompromised

booster shots
Posted at 7:01 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 20:01:03-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System are waiting anxiously for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendation to administer booster shots to immunocompromised people.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control, said once authorized, the boosters will be for immunocompromised people such as those on cancer treatments, with HIV or solid organ transplant patients.

"We want to do everything we can to protect these most vulnerable groups," Hawkinson said.

Hawkinson said the hospital is ready to administer the shots as soon as it is authorized.

While Hawkinson couldn't give specific numbers, he said the hospital does have fully vaccinated heart, liver and kidney transplant patients hospitalized with COVID-19 currently. He said he spoke to other chief medical officers around the region on a call Thursday who are seeing the same concern.

"I think we have very good evidence, especially in that solid organ transplant population and blood cancer and bone marrow transplant population, that they don't mount as robust of an immune response," Hawkinson said.

When asked about other people being eligible for a booster shot, Hawkinson said evidence shows the current vaccines work extremely well protecting against COVID-19 and the variants, including the delta variant.

"We know that the majority of the people in the hospital now, in our community, but also in the nation, are unvaccinated people," Hawkinson said.

The current emergency use authorization only allows for two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The updated emergency use authorization would allow for a third dose of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

With Johnson & Johnson not included in the expected updated recommendation, Hawkinson said there isn't a lot of data currently about mixing the vaccines used in the U.S.

"We don't have a lot of information about that," Hawkinson said. "Do I believe it is safe? It is probably safe. We have seen that these vaccines are extremely safe and the benefits they give far outweigh the risk from that."