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Immunocompromised patients struggling to get 4th dose recommended by the CDC

Current guidance says those with “moderately or severely” weakened immune systems should get three primary doses and a booster.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is clearing up some confusion and telling pharmacies to stop turning people away who are immunocompromised and are asking for a fourth shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Current guidance says those with “moderately or severely” weakened immune systems should get three primary doses and a booster.  

Adam Miller, who lives in Zionsville, has an autoimmune disease that was diagnosed in 2012. He’s been taking a variety of medications that puts him at a higher risk for severe COVID-19.  

Last week, his wife signed him up for an appointment to get the fourth dose at the Boone County Health Department’s vaccine clinic.  

“At the check-in process, I handed them my CDC card and they looked at it confused for a little bit,” Miller said.  

Before receiving his shot, Miller said the workers needed to check his eligibility. It was the first time he ran into this issue.  

“I think that is really what triggered it for getting the shot was me mentioning that my doctor recommending that I come in,” Miller said.  

Even though the fourth dose isn’t recommended for the general public, it is encouraged for millions of people with compromised immune systems.  

In October, the CDC approved a fourth shot as a “booster” for the high-risk group, on top of their three other primary doses. Then in January, the agency shortened the amount of time someone needs to wait from six months to five. 

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But somehow, that messaging didn’t reach everyone.    

Lynn Livingston, who lives in Plainfield, also ran into the same problem last week. She is battling Hodgkin lymphoma cancer and previously had a liver transplant - two things that make her immunocompromised.  

“I was next in line and the pharmacist came and told me that they don’t do fourth vaccines and that she didn’t notice it was for a fourth,” Livingston said. 

Despite making an appointment using the right qualifications, she went home only to be called back later by the pharmacist.  

“Something came across her computer saying she could do the fourth vaccine and hoped I would come back and get it. So I did,” Livingston said.  

Other patients said they have needed to show proof of medical records or a doctor’s note in order to get the shot.  

CVS said it’s following the guidance and giving a fourth shot to people who meet the requirements. Walgreens said it is making every effort to update its team members. 

RELATED: Pfizer opens study of COVID shots updated to match omicron

Indiana Department of Health’s website also has the guidelines laid out, saying, “People who are immunocompromised are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. Everyone, including immunocompromised people, should receive a COVID-19 vaccine primary series if they are 5 years and older as soon as possible. People who are immunocompromised are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, and may be able to receive a third dose 28 days after their second primary dose. Immunocompromised individuals should also receive a booster shot as soon as they are eligible.” 

To see if you are eligible click here. It’s also recommended you speak with your physician if you have any questions or concerns before making an appointment. 

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