mRNA Vaccine Protection Varies Among Immunocompromised Patients

(Reuters) – Among people with impaired immune systems, some get less benefit than others from the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, and new data help clarify the differences and supports the need for extra shots.

Researchers studied roughly 20,000 immunocompromised adults – 53% of whom were fully vaccinated – and nearly 70,000 with normal immune systems (immunocompetent), 43% of whom were fully vaccinated. Overall, the vaccines’ efficacy against hospitalization for COVID-19 was 90% in the immunocompetent group. That dropped to 77% in those with conditions that weaken their immune system, regardless of age.

But efficacy ranged from 59% among transplant recipients, who take anti-rejection medicines, and 74% among blood cancer patients to 81% among people with rheumatologic or inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, the researchers reported in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Statistically, the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were similarly effective, said Peter Embi, Chief Executive of Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis.

“Our study supports the CDC recommendations that two-doses of the mRNA vaccines aren’t enough,” he told Reuters. “People with suppressed immune systems who are getting either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should get three doses of either one, and then a booster six months later.”

SOURCE: MMWR, online November 2, 2021.

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