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What People With HS Should Know About Getting a Second COVID-19 Booster Shot

Posted on August 03, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Robert Hurd, M.D.
Article written by
Manuel Penton, M.D.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved a second COVID-19 booster shot of the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for people over 50 years old and those who are immunocompromised.
  • The HS Foundation recommends that individuals with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) talk with their doctors about timing COVID-19 vaccination around biologic treatments.

The CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have authorized and recommended a second booster shot for individuals over 50 and those with immunocompromising conditions.

The HS Foundation recommends that people with HS talk with their providers about whether to time COVID-19 vaccinations around biologic treatments. The foundation notes, however, that other common HS medications don’t typically interfere with these vaccines.

The New Recommendations

Some important details about these recommendations include the following:

  • This booster is for people who received their first booster at least four months ago.
  • This fourth shot would be of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, not the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • Even if you were previously vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it is now recommended that this next dose be a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine only.
  • For those who are immunocompromised and received a three-dose primary vaccination followed by an initial booster, this additional booster counts as a fifth shot.

How Booster Shots Can Protect People With HS

If you’re living with hidradenitis suppurativa, you may be wondering what the experts say about the importance of vaccination against COVID-19. A committee of 33 HS experts worked together to create a consensus statement on this topic and determined that “HS patients and their close contacts should receive the COVID-19 vaccination and follow preventative guidelines due to the potentially higher risk of COVID-19 complications.”

The CDC’s list of underlying medical conditions doesn’t explicitly list HS as a condition that may qualify someone for a second booster shot. The list of underlying medical conditions includes, for example, chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, smoking or smoking history, and HIV infection.

“Have my second COVID booster on Thursday,” one myHSteam member wrote. Another said, “I didn’t have any issues with my booster.”

Talk with your doctor if you have questions about your eligibility for an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Why Booster Shots Matter

Research indicates that antibody levels are likely to decrease over time, so getting booster doses at recommended intervals is necessary — even for vaccinated people who made antibodies after their initial shots.

Simply making antibodies does not always translate to complete immunity from COVID-19 infection. The findings from recent studies, however, are promising. In one study of immunocompromised people with cancer, researchers tested levels of antibodies, the proteins the immune system makes to help destroy a target. In this case, the antibodies were to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, made in response to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

On average, antibodies against the coronavirus were identified after the second vaccine dose in about 90 percent of the study’s 515 participants. These results are considered a good sign that vaccines using mRNA — which include those by Moderna and Pfizer — for COVID-19 can trigger strong responses, even from people with compromised immune systems. It’s evidence that vaccines can protect people at higher risk of severe infections.

One study of 3,418 people with HS demonstrated that the rate of vaccine-driven side effects was similar between those who had HS and people in the general population. Although some people have reported HS flares following vaccination, experts say these periods of symptom worsening can be well managed with treatment.

According to the CDC, getting vaccinated is still the best way to protect yourself and slow the spread of the virus. If you are unvaccinated due to immunodeficiency, an autoimmune disease, or cancer treatment or because you are an organ transplant recipient, this new research should give you confidence to speak with your health care provider about when a COVID-19 vaccine would be right for you.

Find Your Team

On myHSteam, the social support network for people with HS and their loved ones, members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand.

Are you considering getting a second booster shot? Have you discussed any concerns with your health care provider? Share your insights in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Robert Hurd, M.D. is a professor of endocrinology and health care ethics at Xavier University. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Manuel Penton, M.D. is a medical editor at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about him here.

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