2021 | Coronavirus

UPDATED: Montgomery County starts administering third dose of vaccine

About 27,000 immunocompromised residents are eligible first

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A Montgomery County vaccinator prepares a COVID-19 vaccine syringe at the county clinic on Montgomery College's Germantown campus on March 31.

File photo

This story was updated at 11:35 a.m. Aug. 20, 2021, to reflect that third doses are now available.

County officials, pharmacies, retail stores and doctor’s offices are now administering a third dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to some of Montgomery County’s most vulnerable residents.

The third doses are available for immunocompromised people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines those as people who have:

  • Been getting treatment for cancer, whether via tumors or in the blood
  • Received an organ transplant or who are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem-cell transplant within the last two years
  • A moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infections
  • Been getting treatment for high-dose corticosteroids

“You will be asked to self-attest that you meet one of the CDC eligibility recommendations to make sure vaccine gets to those identified as needing a third dose. County-run clinics will not require a doctor’s note or other proof,” a county web page stated about the third doses.

Mary Anderson, a spokeswoman with the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, said Thursday that health officials had been waiting on guidance from the state’s Department of Health on how to proceed with those third doses for immunocompromised residents.

The county announced Friday morning that the third doses are now available.

James Bridgers, the county’s deputy health officer, told reporters Wednesday that residents who think they might be eligible should talk with their primary care provider to make sure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended last week that people who are immunocompromised should be able to receive a third dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. That accounts for about 2.7% of adults nationwide, or roughly 7 million people, the CDC estimated.

On Wednesday, Bridgers told reporters he estimated that 27,000 residents fall under the immunocompromised category, according to county data.

Anderson said Thursday that “booster shots” also will be available to the rest of the county’s population, hopefully by September.

The New York Times recently reported that the Biden administration recommends people who have gotten both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine get a booster eight months after their second dose.

The county is currently running permanent vaccine clinics at the following locations:

  • Dennis Avenue Health Center, Silver Spring
  • Montgomery College – Rockville Campus, Rockville
  • Upcounty Regional Services Center, Germantown

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com