Charities welcome ‘much-needed reassurance’ of third Covid jabs for severely immunosuppressed

Charities supporting people at high risk from coronavirus have welcomed the news that those with severely weakened immune systems will get a third dose of a vaccine.

The top-up dose, for people who are not likely to have generated a full immune response with the first two jabs, has been hailed as something that will give “much-needed reassurance and additional protection”.

Charities called on the NHS to ensure those who are eligible, including people with leukaemia, advanced HIV and who have had recent organ transplants, receive clear communication.

Kate Collins, chief executive of the Teenage Cancer Trust, said: “We know that young people with cancer continue to be worried about the threat of the virus, with some young people continuing to shield and take other precautions despite restrictions lifting.

“We welcome the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s decision to provide a third vaccine dose for people over 12 who are severely immunosuppressed – including some people with cancer – as this will offer much-needed reassurance and additional protection.

“If young people have any questions about their eligibility, I’d encourage them to speak to their clinical team.

“In the meantime, I urge everyone who is eligible but unvaccinated to take up the offer of an immunisation to protect yourself, but also to protect those around you like young people with cancer.”

Gemma Peters (pictured), chief executive of Blood Cancer UK, described the announcement as “great news”.

She added: “The NHS now needs to make sure it contacts every person with blood cancer to invite them for a third dose.

“In the past, too many people with blood cancer have been missed out in this sort of blanket communication and it is vital that this time everyone gets an invitation promptly.

“The invitation for a third dose is also a chance for the NHS to inform people with blood cancer about how their condition may affect their response to the vaccines, and so give them the information they need to make their own informed decisions about how they live their lives.”

Fiona Loud, policy director at Kidney Care UK, said the recommendation of third doses for the most vulnerable must be acted on “as soon as possible”.

She said: “For months we have heard from immunosuppressed kidney patients that they are worried they don’t have the same protection from Covid-19 vaccines as others.

“Some of them have continued to shield or are going back into shielding because they see infection rates going up in their area.

“This third dose will increase their chances of protection, so we welcome today’s announcement that it will be offered to people who are vulnerable to Covid-19. We need to see this clearly communicated and enacted by medical teams as soon as possible.”

Dr Aisling McMahon, executive director of research and policy at Kidney Research UK, said: “We welcome this announcement from the JCVI, which is reassuring news for kidney transplant patients.

“However, we await further advice for patients on dialysis and patients with advanced kidney disease, who remain highly vulnerable and are currently at risk of being left behind in the vaccine programme.”

Professor Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Edinburgh, said immunity should be “substantially improved” in this category with a third dose.

She said: “This is very welcome guidance and is based on a considerable body of evidence that many people with immunosuppressive diseases or who are receiving immunosuppressive treatments make a detectable but suboptimal antibody response after two doses of the vaccine.

“There is every reason to expect that their immunity can be substantially improved by giving them a third dose.

“It would be wise to actively monitor the response to vaccination in this group of patients so that they can be advised individually of their immune status and adjust their daily activities accordingly.”

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