COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) is now offering a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised individuals.

Monday, FCPH opened a third dose vaccine clinic at its downtown headquarters, offering the extra dose by appointment only.

Alyson Gruber, 21, was born with an immune deficiency and explained her doctor encouraged her to get the additional shot as an extra safety measure.

“[My doctor] said to be really careful around people who aren’t vaccinated or even people who are vaccinated but work in really high-risk areas, like friends who are nurses and stuff like that,” she said of the concerns that her immune system couldn’t fight off exposure to the virus.

The CDC recommends moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive the additional dose at least 28 days after receiving their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The recommendations include those who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

Kasey Ell was also at the FCPH third dose clinic Monday and said it’s been stressful watching the Delta variant rapidly spread through the community.

“As soon as the second strain came out, I was terrified,” Ell explained. “[It’s because I’m] able to pick up more germs and not able to fight them off. It usually takes me a month, month and a half to fight off a common cold.”

Ell will turn 30 on Tuesday. Gruber celebrated her 21st birthday in quarantine. Both spent much of the past 18 months avoiding exposure and taking precautions.

“It’s definitely better than getting COVID and getting sick, but it’s still really hard,” Gruber said. “It’s just very isolating and scary to be young and not be able to do things.”

The CDC explained immunocompromised individuals may be at a higher risk for serious, prolonged cases of COVID-19. Ongoing trials suggest the group may not develop full immunity after two doses, and early studies show an additional dose of the same vaccine can provide improved response.

Both Gruber and Ell said the third dose provided a measure of comfort that they’re more protected from the virus, but they hope more unvaccinated people will choose to get the shot to protect everyone.

“Even though I’m vaccinated, I always wear a mask. I just urge people to get vaccinated, please, to help out everybody” Ell said.

“I hope that it pushes people to get it,” Gruber added. “I’ve done it 3 times. You can do it twice.”

The CDC said there’s not enough data yet to determine whether immunocompromised people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine also have an improved antibody response following an additional dose of the same vaccine. The agency suggests consulting your medical provider to discuss your options.

FCPH plans to evaluate the turnout and effectiveness of its first third dose vaccine clinics before scheduling future events. Staff said another clinic could be opened as early as next Monday.

You can click here for the Franklin County Public Health COVID-19 vaccination web page.

Several other providers are also offering the third dose for those who qualify.