A full list of those eligible for a third Covid vaccine was released this week, claiming 500,000 people in the UK will be called for another injection.
This offer is separate from any potential booster program.
Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), people aged 12 and over who have severely weakened immune systems will be offered an additional shot.
The additional doses will be offered to those who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second vaccination.
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People who are severely immunosuppressed may not mount a full response to vaccination and therefore may be less protected than the wider population, the JVCI said.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 Immunisation for the JCVI, said: “We want people with severely suppressed immune systems to have the best chance of gaining protection from COVID-19 via vaccination.
“Therefore, we are advising they have a third vaccine dose on top of their initial 2 doses, as we hope this will reduce their risk of severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death.”
Studies are ongoing to see how effective a third dose is for immunosuppressed people, but it is very unlikely to cause any harm.
The decision on the timing of the third dose should be made by their specialist.
As a general guide, the third dose should usually be at least 8 weeks after the second dose but with the 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.
In the event of a booster programme, it is expected that severely immunosuppressed people will also be offered a booster dose, at a suitable interval after their third dose.
A third primary dose is an extra ‘top-up’ dose for those who may not have generated a full immune response to the first 2 doses. In contrast, a booster dose is a later dose to extend the duration of protection from the primary course of vaccinations.
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