CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The University of Virginia Health Systems is now offering third doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to patients with weakened immune systems.

UVA Health estimates around 7,000 people within the health district are eligible for a third dose. Doctors recommend that these individuals continue masking, distancing and limiting exposure to non-vaccinated people. 

"Even after a third dose of the vaccine, you should behave as if you haven't been vaccinated, particularly during times when there's a lot of COVID that's circulating in the community," said Dr. Costi Sifri, UVA Health’s director of hospital epidemiology.

UVA Health advises people to get the same vaccine they had previously received and wait 28 days for the second or third shot.

"By providing a third dose, some of those individuals, have a boosted level of immunity that we think is going to correlate with protection from infection," said Sifri.

Dr. Debby Anne Shirley focuses on infectious diseases in UVA's Pediatrics Division. She says immunocompromised children who are 12 or older should also get a third shot, especially as COVID cases rise in that demographic.

"We're hoping that they would also benefit from that third dose to help protect them going back out to school," she said.

Third shots are also recommended for pregnant women who have weakened immune systems.

Officials say a significant number of patients who are hospitalized at UVA are pregnant and unvaccinated.

Doctors say it's important for this group to get vaccinated because viral antigens can be passed through breast milk and from the placenta to a baby.

"Women who are pregnant can not only get COVID, but they can acquire COVID and can have severe outcomes for both themselves and for their children," said Sifri.

Third doses are available at the COVID Clinic in the West Complex at 1300 Jefferson Park Avenue and the UVA Outpatient Pharmacy at the Education Resource Center on Lee Street, across from the main entrance to the UVA Medical Center.

Schedule an appointment by calling the UVA Health COVID Call Center at (434) 297-4829 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or use the self-scheduling link here.