By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Some immunocompromised Minnesotans should be able to get a third dose of the vaccine as soon as this weekend.

The CDC director gave final approval late this afternoon. The agency says this will impact about 2.7% of the U.S. population, and the state health department estimates that around 115,000 Minnesotans will be eligible.

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The latest data says a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine could help protect a vulnerable portion of our population.

“People who have a compromised immune system may not develop a good response to the COVID vaccine and so a third dose may help improve their protection,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.

Experts say immunocompromised individuals are at greater risk for becoming severely sick, to experience lower vaccine effectiveness, and to have breakthrough infections.

The state health department says it will share guidance with providers on which Minnesotans can get the additional shot.

“There are plenty of vaccine doses already here in the state to vaccinate, give third doses to this eligible population,” Malcolm added.

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But health leaders warn others against trying to get a third dose right now, saying it hasn’t been studied enough for healthy individuals, who developed antibodies.

“The idea of ‘two is good, three is better’ is not necessarily true,” said Director of Infectious Disease Kris Ehresmann. “Before booster doses for the general public would be recommended, we need to have clear data for those recommendations.”

They do encourage people who have not gotten vaccinated to get the shot, saying this has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

“The more people who are vaccinated, the more protection we’ll have in our communities to help those who are not able to be vaccinated, or people who have conditions which may – they may not respond as well to the vaccine,” said Malcolm.

A CDC panel recommends the third dose for transplant patients, those treated for tumors or cancers of the blood, those with diseases that damage the immune system, and some HIV patients among others.

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Jennifer Mayerle