On 1 September 2021 the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to ‘severely immunosuppressed people’.

This is a third dose as part of the primary vaccination course. It is separate from any potential booster vaccination.

Who is eligible?

This third dose is being offered to people over 12 who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose, including those with leukaemia, advanced HIV and recent organ transplants.

When should I get my third dose?

The decision on the timing of the third dose should be made by your specialist or health professional. As a general guide, the JCVI has set out that a third dose should usually be at least 8 weeks after the second dose. However there is flexibility to adjust the timing so that, where possible, immunosuppression is at a minimum when the vaccine dose is given. For example, it is preferable to give a vaccine dose before someone undergoes chemotherapy, rather than during their treatment.

How can I get my third dose?

At the current time you cannot self-refer or use the national booking system to arrange your own appointment.

If you are severely immunosuppressed and you are eligible (at 8 weeks from your second dose) you may be contacted by your specialist, your GP or the vaccination team working on behalf of your GP practice to set out how you can receive this vaccination.

Despite the initial announcement in September about this third dose, we have been awaiting national guidance to support teams to identify those who are eligible. This has now been received and now GP practices can see the lists of their patients who would be eligible for this vaccination.

Therefore, hospital consultants may contact you to refer you to your local GP led vaccination team, or you may be contacted by that team directly.

The vaccination teams will be able to arrange an appointment for you.

You can also attend a walk in vaccination session, with evidence of the letter sent to you offering a 3rd dose. See the latest list of walk in sessions.

I think I should be eligible for a third dose but I haven’t heard anything?

GP practices have received the national guidance at the start of October and are working at pace to contact their patients who would be eligible. Please give them time to make contact with you. If after a week, you are still concerned or feel you may have been missed, please speak to your GP practice in the first instance.

Why should I have a third dose?

If you are severely immunosuppressed, you may not mount a full response to vaccination and therefore may be less protected than the wider population. This third dose is being offered as it may increase the protection as part of the initial vaccination doses for this group.

How is this different to the booster and when can I then have a booster?

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. The booster dose is a later dose to extend the duration of protection you have from the primary course of vaccinations.