Who can get a 3rd COVID-19 vaccine dose and how?

Posted at 9:28 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 23:16:11-04

NORFOLK, Va. - News 3 is taking action for your health as certain people are now eligible for a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

For April Long, Tuesday was a hat trick as she got her third COVID vaccine dose at a clinic at Military Circle Mall in Norfolk.

“I feel so overwhelmed! I feel so good! It’s just so exciting,” Long said. “I just feel like I’ve got a boost of energy now.”

She got her third dose alongside her sister, Vanessa Onvirimba.

“I wanted to try to make sure I’m safe, not just for me, but for her,” she said. “I won’t feel like I’m trapped in my house.”

Tuesday was also special for Onvirimba as she got her first dose after being diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this year and spent weeks in a hospital.

“By the grace of God, I didn’t have to go on a ventilator,” Onvirimba said. “[The] doctors said I had to wait six months. My six-month period is today, and I couldn’t wait to get down here fast enough. “

At Tuesday's clinic, more than 350 doses went into arms. Twenty-five of those were third doses.

“We’ve seen throughout the country the number of cases increasing with the Delta variant,” Bob Engle, emergency coordinator with the Virginia Beach Dept. of Public Health told News 3.

“Getting that third dose boosts it back up and makes you have higher antibodies,” News 3 medical expert and family physician Dr. Ryan Light said. “You’re less likely to be hospitalized and less likely to have severe complications.”

So, who exactly can get the third dose?

According to the CDC, you're eligible right now if you're moderately to severely immunocompromised.

"People who are on chronic steroids should be there. People who are taking any kind of drugs for rheumatological diseases are at high risk. Anybody who's had an organ transplant, very high risk. HIV, obviously that suppresses your immune system as well. Anybody who has had any kind of blood cancers, lymphomas or anybody receiving any kind of chemotherapies,” Dr. Light said. “Just because you had cancer doesn’t mean you fit in these categories. We said, ‘severely immunocompromised.’ It doesn’t mean just, ‘immunocompromised.'”

Health officials told News 3 if you qualify, you can get the shots at pharmacies and clinics like the one at Military Circle Mall.

Engle said they’ll be offering first, second and third doses for people at the mall on Tuesdays from 2-6 p.m., and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the end of October.

“There’s a medical screening before the shot is administered. The vaccinator does the medical screening, so they talk to each person and it is the honor system. They don’t have to produce any documents,” Engle said. “For the most part, I think people are being honest and going by the CDC guidance.”

As for Long, she hopes others will roll up their sleeves not once or twice, but eventually three times.

“There’s no reason why you can say you can’t get this done,” Long said.

Related: Virginia Department of Health prepares to administer booster shots for most Americans

Health officials recommend checking with your doctor or the CDC guidelines if you want faster results.

For more information on the third COVID-19 vaccine dose being offered at pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens, click here.

Click here for our full COVID vaccination guide.