The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reached out to pharmacists Wednesday to reinforce the message that people with moderate to severe immune suppression are eligible for fourth COVID shots.
The conference call came a day after KHN reported that immunocompromised people were being turned away by pharmacy employees unfamiliar with the latest CDC guidelines.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain tweeted Wednesday morning that "immune-compromised people should get the shots they need," adding that the CDC "is going to send stronger messages to pharmacies to make sure this happens."
Pharmacists who joined the call said it took place midday Wednesday, a few hours after Klain's tweet.
The CDC "reiterated the recommendations, running through case examples," said Mitchel Rothholz, chief of governance and state affiliates for the American Pharmacists Association, who joined the CDC call.
Rothholz said he "asked for a prepared document … that clearly laid out the recommendations … so we can clearly and consistently communicate the message. They said they would but don't know how long that will take."
The CDC recommends one additional shot for the 7 million American adults whose weak immune systems make them more vulnerable to COVID infection and death. This group includes people with medical conditions that impair their immune response to infection, as well as people who take immune-suppressing drugs because of organ transplants, cancer, or autoimmune diseases. Although people with obesity or diabetes are at high risk of developing severe disease or dying from COVID, they're not considered immunocompromised.
For other people ages 5 or older, the CDC recommends a primary vaccine series of two doses of mRNA vaccine. Adults also may receive the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which the CDC says may be safer for people who have had a severe allergic reaction to an mRNA vaccine.