People with severely weakened immune systems should be offered a third coronavirus vaccine dose, the U.K.’s vaccination advisory committee announced today.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) said the third shot should be considered as part of their primary vaccination schedule and not part of a booster program, on grounds that their antibody response to the first doses would be less robust than that of a healthy person.
The third dose should be given to anyone over 12 who was severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose, including those with leukemia, advanced HIV and recent organ transplants.
“These people may not mount a full response to vaccination and therefore may be less protected than the wider population,” the JCVI said, adding that the “offer is separate to any potential booster program.”
The committee has yet to made a call on a booster program for the broad population. On June 30, it said that the U.K.’s National Health Service should prepare to administer third doses from September to coincide with the flu jab program, but noted it was waiting for more data before recommending who should be offered another dose.
The JCVI is “still deliberating the potential benefits of booster vaccines for the rest of the population and is awaiting further evidence to inform this decision,” it said today.
For those getting the third shot, the committee recommended an mRNA vaccine, with the BioNTech/Pfizer jab preferred for 12 to 17 year olds. As for timing, the third dose should be offered at least eight weeks after the second dose, but with some flexibility built in so that the body’s immune system has the best chance of responding — for example, before, not during, a round of chemotherapy.
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