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On the 1st of September 2021, Public Health England announced that The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is advising that those with suppressed immune systems receive a 3rd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as part of their primary COVID-19 vaccination schedule.
The 3rd dose should be offered to anyone aged 12 and above who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their 1st and 2nd vaccine. This includes, but not limited to, those suffering from cancer or undergoing cancer treatment. Unfortunately, research has shown that these people may not have exhibited a full response to the COVID-19 vaccine, leaving them less protected than the wider population.
However, this is not to be confused with a potential booster vaccine programme. The JCVI continue to discuss the effectiveness of this for the wider population and further evidence continues to be reviewed to inform this decision.
People with immunosuppression are likely to become very unwell if they catch COVID-19.
Research continues to evaluate how effective a 3rd dose is likely to be for immunosuppressed people, but it is very unlikely to cause any harm. Therefore, a 3rd dose is advised to increase protection, as stated by Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 Immunisation for the JCVI:
“We want people with severely suppressed immune systems to have the best chance of gaining protection from COVID-19 via vaccination. Therefore, we are advising they have a third vaccine dose on top of their initial 2 doses, as we hope this will reduce their risk of severe outcomes such as hospitalisation and death.”
The JCVI advises that for adults aged 18 and older, either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines be administered for the third dose. For those aged 12-17, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is preferred. The timing of the 3rd dose should be discussed with your specialist to ensure that immunosuppression is at a minimum when the vaccine is given. For example, it is preferred for someone with cancer to receive their 3rd dose before undergoing chemotherapy, as opposed to during treatment when their immune system is compromised.
Those with less serious immunosuppression are not included in this advice but are likely to be included in a potential booster vaccine programme, pending further advice from JCVI. In the event of a booster programme, it is likely that the immunosuppressed population will also be offered a booster dose, a suitable amount of time after their 3rd dose.
If you are currently suffering from Pancreatic cancer, we advise you to speak to your medical consultant about receiving the 3rd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Otherwise, we advise you to speak to your GP. For GPs or pharmacies looking to increase their learning on pancreatic cancer and diagnosing the symptoms, you can click here.