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Immunocompromised people make up nearly half of COVID-19 breakthrough hospitalizations – an extra vaccine dose may help

Cancer and organ transplant patients, people with untreated HIV and people with other immunodeficiencies are at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection. burakkarademir/E+ via Getty Images

Immunocompromised people make up nearly half of COVID-19 breakthrough hospitalizations – an extra vaccine dose may help

Cancer and organ transplant patients, people with untreated HIV and people with other immunodeficiencies are at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection. burakkarademir/E+ via Getty Images

Immunocompromised people make up nearly half of COVID-19 breakthrough hospitalizations – an extra vaccine dose may help

Cancer and organ transplant patients, people with untreated HIV and people with other immunodeficiencies are at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection. burakkarademir/E+ via Getty Images

Immunocompromised people make up nearly half of COVID-19 breakthrough hospitalizations – an extra vaccine dose may help

Cancer and organ transplant patients, people with untreated HIV and people with other immunodeficiencies are at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection. burakkarademir/E+ via Getty Images

One reason for this recommendation is high hospitalization rates among immunocompromised people who are vaccinated.

Jonathan Golob, University of Michigan

Green background with white text noting that 44% is the share of hospitalized breakthrough case patients in the US who are immunocompromised

CC BY-ND

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially recommended on Aug. 12 and Aug. 13, 2021, respectively, that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised receive a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

One reason for this recommendation is high hospitalization rates among immunocompromised people who are vaccinated. As of July 2021, nearly half of the vaccinated people hospitalized with breakthrough COVID-19 infections were immunocompromised – despite making up only 2.7% of the U.S. adult population. In comparison, the rate of breakthrough cases among vaccinated people who are not immunocompromised was less than 1%.

I am a physician scientist specializing in infections in immunocompromised patients. As someone who researches autoimmune disease and has worked on the COVID-19 vaccine trials, I agree that a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine can help protect those with weakened immune systems.

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