Being immunosuppressed means having a weakened immune system and this can be due either to certain diseases or conditions, such as some cancers, AIDS, and certain genetic disorders, or as a result of receiving certain medicines or treatments like anticancer drugs, radiation therapy, and stem cell or organ transplant.
“If someone is immunosuppressed it means they have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases,” explains Rebecca Neno, Director of Covid and Influenza Vaccination Programmes at NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group. “In the case of covid, it also means they may not mount a full immune response to a primary covid vaccination, and this is why we are asking immunosuppressed people to come back for a third primary vaccination.”
Some studies have suggested that immunosuppressed people may benefit from a third primary dose of the covid vaccination, due to the increased immune responses this can bring.
“So the advice for immunosuppressed people is to have a third primary dose of the covid vaccination, to give them the maximum possible protection,” comments Rebecca. “If you are immunosuppressed and on regular/stable medication and you have a letter confirming this from either your GP or your hospital consultant, you can get your third primary vaccination as a walk-in at either of our two Mass Vaccination Centres at the PRSA in Boston, or at the Lincolnshire Showground. You will not be able to pre-book this appointment. Please remember to bring your letter of eligibility with you when you attend our vaccine centres.
“Please also remember - this third primary dose for immunosuppressed people should be given ideally at least eight weeks after the second dose. It’s also important to bear in mind current or planned immunosuppressive therapies – if you are in any doubt and/or on a cyclical type of treatment – for example if you are receiving radiotherapy – you first need to discuss with your GP or hospital consultant.”
The Green Book, which is published by the government and has the latest information on vaccines and vaccine procedures, includes a chapter on covid and outlines criteria for eligibility for a third primary dose of the covid vaccination.
“This may help some people to understand whether they are eligible for a third primary dose or not. Of particular help might be the table on p21 of chapter 14a that outlines criteria for a third primary dose, and this table will be available on the NHS Lincolnshire CCG website. Having said that, I would again strongly encourage you to speak with your GP or hospital consultant,” concludes Rebecca.