Utah transplant recipient given third shot of COVID-19 vaccine

Hollie Maloney, a pharmacy technician, loads a syringe with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at the Portland Expo in Portland, Maine, on March 2. Utahn Lauren Holbrook is one of the two million people who were given a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. (Robert F. Bukaty, Associated Press)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Lauren Holbrook is among the two million people who were given a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine after the United States authorized them in August for people with compromised immune systems.

Holbrook said getting the booster shot gave her a sense of relief.

"When we are talking about vaccines for transplant patients, because we tend to react more significantly, a vaccine is very much a life-saving measure for us," she said.

The 28-year-old has had three heart transplants due to coronary artery disease. Her whole life, she has had to be cautious about her health.

"My immune system is a lot weaker than most people," Holbrook said. "Something that may be like a 12-hour cold for one person could be a complete week of absolute misery for me."

In August, her doctor's office contacted her to let her know she was eligible for the booster. She jumped at the opportunity, got the shot and had no noticeable side effects.

"I feel lucky, I feel blessed," she said. "I also do think the science backs up a need for a transplant patient to have a third booster shot."

Third shots are something Israel has been giving out since July 29. Their data shows — on the issue of waning immunity — the more time that passed since initial vaccination, the more likely people were to get breakthrough infections. Multiple studies from Israel show a third dose makes breakthrough infections less likely.

A plan to offer them to all Americans was put on hold Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration vaccine panel vote. The group voted against giving third shots to most Americans, just those 65 and older and those considered high-risk.

The FDA panel agreed that more research on the extra shot is needed, something Holbrook said she would watch very closely.

"Medical science is a slow process. We just kind of have to keep moving forward with it as it comes, and that's part of the fun of it all," she said.

The decision now moves to FDA officials, which typically follows the panel's guidance but does not have to.

That meeting will be held sometime this week.

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Ashley Moser

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