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Third doses for people who are immunosupressed

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The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is advising that people with severely weakened immune systems should have a third vaccine dose as part of their primary COVID-19 vaccination schedule - this is not a booster, but a third dose to ensure that such people receive the same protection given by two doses for those with normal immune systems. 

The third primary doses are being offered to people aged 12 and over who are immunosuppressed. The third dose should be given at least 8 weeks after the second dose. Please note, you will still need to receive a booster dose six months (182 days) from the date of your third primary course dose.

Letters are being sent from specialist teams at the hospitals and/or General Practice to invite those eligible to receive their vaccine. People who are eligible can then book or walk into any of our vaccination sites with their eligibility letter to receive this third dose. 

  • People receiving a letter, email or texts from specialist teams at the hospitals will be asked to book into the vaccination centre (at RJAH) or a hospital hub (at either Royal Shrewsbury Hospital or Princess Royal Hospital). A link to book an appointment should be provided in the letter. 
  • People receiving a letter, email or texts from their GP, will be given local booking information along with the links for secondary care clinics to book an appointment.

Alternatively, patients can visit a walk-in clinic but must take their letter, email or text as proof of eligibility.

If you are immunosuppressed and have been invited to receive your third vaccine:

  • You cannot book your third vaccine by calling 119 or the national booking service website.  Instead, you will need to attend a clinic at the hospital, GP Practice or a walk-in session
  • Please visit our page on walk-in sessions here for details of opening times
  • You will be invited for a booster jab six months after your third dose.

If a person believes they are eligible for this third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, but have not been contacted they can contact their GP or hospital consultant to discuss eligibility and provision of an appropriate letter.

 

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the JCVI announcement on third doses

We understand that you may have questions regarding the JCVI's recent announcement. Please use this page to find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the offer of a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccination for patients who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose.

  • Who is currently eligible to get a third dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that a third dose of the vaccine should be offered to people aged 12 years and over who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose, for example because they have leukaemia, advanced HIV or recent organ transplants. These patients may not mount a full response to vaccination and therefore may be less protected than the wider population.

Those with less serious immunosuppression are not included in this current advice but are likely to become eligible for another dose as part of a potential booster programme, pending further guidance from the JCVI.

  • What vaccine type will be given to patients who receive a third dose?

The JCVI advises that for adults aged 18 and older, either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines be administered for the third dose, as a number of studies have reported an increased immune response in some immunosuppressed people after a third dose of an mRNA vaccine. For those aged 12 to 17, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is preferred.

The AstraZeneca vaccine may be offered on a case-by-case, individualised basis following a decision by a health professional. 

  • When should patients in this eligible group receive their dose?

The decision on the timing of the third dose should be made by the patient’s specialist. As a general guide, the third dose should usually be at least 8 weeks after the second dose but with flexibility to adjust the timing so that, where possible, immunosuppression is at a minimum when the vaccine dose is given.

This will enable a better immune response to be generated. For example, it is preferable to give a vaccine dose before someone undergoes chemotherapy, rather than during their treatment.

  • How will eligible patients get the third dose of the vaccine?

NHS England and NHS Improvement have asked all specialists working in hospital as well as all GP practices to identify individuals they care for who are eligible under the JCVI’s definition, due to severe immunosuppression at the time of receiving their first or second dose of the vaccine.

If your GP practice is currently part of a GP-led vaccination hub which is delivering COVID-19 vaccines, you will be invited by your GP Practice to attend your third vaccination appointment.

If your GP practice is not currently part of a GP-led vaccination hub, they will share your details with the Clinical Commissioning Group so that our teams can arrange for you to be offered an appointment at another vaccination site. 

  • I’ve read in the news about a potential booster programme. Will patients who are eligible for a third dose also be eligible for a booster dose later on?

This information is correct as at: 09/09/2021 six months following their third dose.