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COVID -19 vaccination advice for severely immunosuppressed

COVID -19 vaccination advice for severely immunosuppressed
20 December 2021

People who are diagnosed as severely immunosuppressed are being offered a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. This is also known as a third primary dose. This third dose is different from a booster dose. You will need both doses if you are identified as severely immunosuppressed.

If you had a weakened immune system when you had your first two doses, the vaccine may not have given you as much protection as it can for people who do not have a weakened immune system.

It is recommended that you receive this third dose at least eight weeks after the second, as part of the primary course of immunisation but if the patient's GP or consultant believe that a different interval should be offered, because of ongoing treatment or starting treatment which will suppress the individual’s immune system, then this timing may be altered.

The JCVI also recommends a booster dose be given a minimum of 3 months (91 days) after the third primary dose. GPs and hospital specialists have been asked to contact you if you qualify. 

GPs and hospital specialists have been asked to contact patients who are eligible for their third and booster doses. If a vaccination cannot be offered at hospital, the patient will be given a letter from their consultant, copied to their GP, so they can access a vaccination at an alternative site. 

If a patient has already received a letter from their consultant or GP, advising them on when they should have their third dose, they can book an appointment through the National Booking Service website, or take their letter to a walk-in site. Patients can also use this third dose letter to get their booster dose at a walk-in site.

A patient who believes they are severely immunosuppressed but does not have a third dose referral letter can now also get their third dose at a walk-in site if they take other evidence about their condition or medication that will allow on-site clinicians to make an assessment. This may include (but is not limited to), recent hospital letters about their condition/medication, or a medication box or prescription with the patient’s name and date on it.

The following people qualify for the third primary dose:

    • a blood cancer (such as leukaemia or lymphoma)
    • a weakened immune system due to a treatment (such as steroid medicine, biological therapy, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy)
    • an organ or bone marrow transplant
    • a condition that means you have a very high risk of getting infections
    •   a condition or treatment that your specialist advises makes you eligible for the third primary dose


The full list of people who are eligible can be found on the NHS website here

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