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Publix offers third COVID vaccine shot for the immunocompromised

People with weakened immune systems are eligible for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. But Moderna is the only third shot available at Tampa Bay’s Publix stores.
A shopper leaves the Publix supermarket on U.S. 19 N in Tarpon Springs on July 8. Publix now offers coronavirus booster shots to those who are eligible to receive them.
A shopper leaves the Publix supermarket on U.S. 19 N in Tarpon Springs on July 8. Publix now offers coronavirus booster shots to those who are eligible to receive them. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Aug. 18
Updated Aug. 18

Tampa Bay’s Publix supermarkets are now offering a free third dose of the Moderna coronavirus shot to vaccinated patients who are eligible to receive it.

The additional vaccination shot is for now only available to the immunocompromised who are eligible under federal guidelines and have received the two-dose vaccines. They can make an appointment or walk into the Publix pharmacy near them pending availability, the company announced Tuesday.

Doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine are available at all in-store locations, but the Pfizer vaccine is not yet available in Tampa Bay locations. It is currently only available in Brevard, Duval, Orange and Polk counties. The government encourages people to get a booster shot of the original vaccine they received.

Related: Florida COVID deaths rise as delta spreads; infections hit 21,600 a day

U.S. health officials are only recommending boosters shots for those using mRNA vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — but there isn’t enough data to show that an additional dose of Johnson & Johnson boosts antibodies.

Publix also offers appointments for those who wish to receive their first vaccine dose. The COVID-19 vaccines are free and safe. More than 347 million doses have been given in the U.S. For more information, check Publix’s vaccination website.

Company officials did not return requests for comment Wednesday.

Florida is dealing with its worst surge of coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, fueled by the highly-transmissible delta variant. The state averaged 21,600 cases a day from Aug. 6-12 and more than 1,000 deaths, according to the latest weekly report from the Florida Department of Health.

In response to the rising infections, the Lakeland grocer is again requiring all employees to wear masks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance and recommended that fully vaccinated people wear face coverings indoors.

Related: ‘No one should die.’ Tampa Bay doctors, nurses exhausted by COVID surge

The CDC recommends people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should get a third dose of the vaccine. That includes people who received cancer treatment, an organ transplant, a stem cell transplant within the last two years, those taking medication that affect the immune system, people with moderate or severe immunodeficiency or people with HIV.

A booster shot is not the same as a third vaccine shot, however. People with weakened immune systems may not have gotten enough protection with the first two doses. They are eligible for a third dose at least 28 days after the second shot.

Boosters rev up protection again after the vaccine’s efficacy wanes. U.S. health officials recommended Wednesday that all Americans to get a booster shot eight months after their second shot. The nationwide rollout could begin late September.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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