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Here's where to get your 3rd booster shot in Michigan, and how to know if you need one

Linda Heard receives her COVID vaccine during a drive-thru clinic in Ypsilanti at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church.
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio

This article was originally published on August 16, 2021. Some of the information inside may be outdated. Please refer to the CDC for official guidelines.

Michiganders who want a third COVID booster shot should be able to get one,  even without providing proof of a medical condition, health officials said Monday. That’s following an announcement made by the CDC on Friday recommending the estimated 3% of the U.S. population who are “moderately to severely immunocompromised” receive a third dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. 

Statewide, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said people will also be able to get booster shots at all upcoming community vaccine clinicscurrently scheduled over the next few weeks. “People can get their third shot at these clinics,” said Angela Minicuci, a spokesperson representing the state, in an email Monday.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Detroit would “take the lead” on implementing the recommendation. At a press conference Monday morning he said the city would administer third doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine to those who have weakened immune systems, stressing that the city would not be making individual determinations for a booster. (An additional dose for those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is still under review.)

“We're not here to make that medical decision for you,” Duggan said. 

In its announcement, the CDC provided a list of medical conditions that may require a booster for individuals to remain fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The list includes organ transplants, advanced HIV, or ongoing cancer treatment. The list does not include conditions like heart disease or diabetes which have been known to result in more severe cases of the disease. 

The TCF Center in Detroit will again be used as a vaccination site beginning on Tuesday. Duggan said that the city, where only 41% of residents have at least one dose of the vaccine, is beginning to make appointments for those who believe they require an additional dose.

"If you call us up and say your immune system is compromised and you want the third shot, we will book that third shot,” he said. “Nobody’s going to ask you for your prescription pill bottle. Nobody's going to ask you for a letter from your doctor.” 

He suggested that those who are unsure whether they should receive an additional dose of the vaccine reach out to their primary care doctors. 

In Washtenaw County, where 70% of residents 12 and older have received at least an initial dose, booster shots will be available on a walk-in basis starting Tuesday. The county is asking people for a signed statement attesting they have one of the CDC’s specific conditions, but no other proof will be required. 

“We are going to see how this goes and switch back to appointments if needed,” said public information officer Susan Ringler-Cerniglia. “We’re ‘cautiously optimistic’ ... that vaccine is widely available enough that we won’t be overwhelmed.”

Ingham County health officer Linda Vail is similarly unconcerned. “There’s no need for a big plan or announcement,” she said Monday. “We’re...just letting people who fall into these groups go get vaccinated at their provider of choice.” 

What the CDC says: who should get this 3rd shot, and why? 

The new guidance includes 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

Only about 3 percent of the population have the conditions that the CDC has laid out as those that should receive a third vaccine dose. Recent studies have shown immunocompromised people may develop a weaker immune response to their first two doses of the vaccine, and are more likely to “have accounted for a large proportion of hospitalized ‘breakthrough cases,’ and that suggests immunocompromised people are more likely to transmit the virus to household contacts.”

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Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
Beenish Ahmed is Michigan Public's Criminal Justice reporter. Since 2016, she has been a reporter for WNYC Public Radio in New York and also a freelance journalist. Her stories have appeared on NPR, as well as in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, VICE and The Daily Beast.
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