“I think you can justify both positions,” said Dr. Helen Boucher, an infectious disease physician at Tufts Medical Center. “Germany is justified in what they’re doing, but I also feel like we’re justified in hanging back because the information is far from perfect.”
Dr. Boucher says she empathizes with patients who are immunosuppressed. But “the bottom line is we need more information,” she added.
That information has been trickling in far too slowly for some Americans.
Deborah Rogow, 70, has multiple myeloma and is worried about the spread of the contagious Delta variant. Ms. Rogow said having a doctor prescribe a third dose if necessary would have been ideal.
For the moment, she’s on her own, and so Ms. Rogow plans to get a third dose of the Moderna vaccine next week at a pharmacy in Santa Barbara, Calif. The Moderna vaccine is still far from full approval, she noted, but she did not want to get a Pfizer-BioNTech dose without more data on mixing the two vaccines.
“I definitely would have appreciated if I could have had my doctor say to do it,” she said. “But it’s coming a little too late.”
Additional doses may help some people with weak immune systems, but others may show little improvement even after a third dose, and still others may not need extra doses at all. In a study of organ transplant recipients, only a third of the patients who got a third dose showed a benefit.
“I wish we had a more rational process to identify individuals within these categories who actually need it versus not,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona.