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Third vaccine to be offered to immunosuppressed individuals

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Island residents with severely weakened immune systems will be offered a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as part of their primary vaccination schedule.

The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation announced earlier this week that those aged 12 and over who are immunosuppressed or were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose should be offered a third jab. A list of those eligible to receive a third primary dose can be found on the website.

Preliminary data shows that some individuals who are immunosuppressed may not have responded as well to their primary vaccines and therefore may be less protected compared to those who are not immunosuppressed. These people are more likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19 and so a third jab has the potential to increase their protection.   

Individuals due to receive the third dose will usually be offered an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or the option of the AstraZeneca Vaxzevria vaccine for individuals who have received this vaccine previously and where this would facilitate delivery; this is in line with the recommendations from JCVI.

The Director of Public Health, Dr Henrietta Ewart commented:

‘People who have a weakened immune system are understandably concerned about their risk of illness from COVID-19. Though the evidence at an individual level is uncertain, offering the third vaccine dose to this group has the potential to give them added protection from the disease.’

A spokesperson for the vaccination team added:

‘It is important that we give these vulnerable individuals the chance to protect themselves further against the virus. We will be working with both GPs and specialists to identify individuals who are eligible for a third dose. A letter will then be sent confirming they are eligible and invite them to register for the vaccine. This will need to be presented at the vaccination appointment.’

This third primary vaccine is an extra dose for those who are thought to not have generated a full immune response to the first two doses. In contrast, the potential booster programme will provide a later dose to extend the duration of protection from the primary course of vaccinations.