MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Important research on the effectiveness of a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is underway in the Twin Cities.

As WCCO found out, the research is offering perspective on how well the vaccine works and exactly who should be looking at getting a third dose.

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Proud mom and wife Sally Thompson of St. Anthony Village got the news in 2009.

“It’s not fun to hear the words ‘you have cancer.’ It’s not fun. It’s a huge blow, take a lot of getting used to,” she said.

She has Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and after beating several relapses, her immune system took a beating too – making COVID-19 extra dangerous.

“No one came in and out of our house for almost a year, including our sons,” she said.

She got the vaccine in January but she says, “I did have an antibody test in May and found out apparently I didn’t have any antibodies or apparently they were too small to count.”

Her case falls right into line with rare vaccine research conducted on the University of Minnesota campus. Dr. Amy Karger with Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the university says “some of the studies show as many as 60% in these immunocompromised groups aren’t responding and that’s a lot higher than we were anticipating.”

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Dr. Karger is heading up research on how the vaccine impacts people who’ve had cancer, HIV, or an organ transplant.

“The good news is even though there are some suboptimal responders to the vaccine, the preliminary data seems to indicate that we can get a subset of those get to a higher level of immunity with that third dose,” she said.

She says research shows few side effects and significant coverage from the third dose, and she is opening her study to gather even more information on the new dose she already believes in.

“My thought is that people should absolutely go get the third dose based on what we know today,” she said.

And Thompson is doing just that next week – she will then join Dr. Karger’s open study.

“Happy to help the university and hope a lot more people in my situation will sign up and be a part of my study,” she said.

If anyone is interested in that study, the university is actively seeking participants. Study participants have to get the shot on their own, then the university will monitor effectiveness. They are also asking for healthy volunteers to be a control for the experiment.

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For more information on the study, click here.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield