A third dose of the coronavirus vaccine is being offered as an extra ‘top-up’ dose for people with a severely weakened immune system. These people may be less protected than the wider population, as they may not have generated a full immune response to the first two doses.
Who is being offered a third dose?
People aged 12 years and over who had a severely weakened immune system around the time they had their first two doses of the coronavirus vaccine are now being offered a third dose. This includes those who had or have:
- blood cancers (such as leukaemia or lymphoma)
- lowered immunity due to treatment (such as steroid medication, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
- lowered immunity due to inherited disorders of the immune system
- an organ or bone marrow transplant
- diseases that affect the immune system such as poorly controlled HIV.
If you are eligible, NHS Scotland will contact you to arrange your appointment. If you have not received an appointment and think you’ve been missed, contact your clinician or GP to discuss whether you should get a third dose.
You may also be offered the flu vaccine at the same time as your third dose. The flu vaccine is the safest and most effective way to help protect against flu.
Research has proven that it is safe to get the COVID-19 and flu vaccine at the same time, and it’s as effective as giving them at different times
Having the third dose may reduce your chance of catching the coronavirus infection. If you do get coronavirus, the symptoms may be less severe and the illness shorter, than if you had not had the third dose.
How many doses will I need?
At this time, people with a severely weakened immune system will need this one extra dose to help improve protection.
People with a severely weakened immune system are currently being offered a third dose. Advice on whether these people will need a further booster dose after this third dose will be confirmed later.
A booster dose is a later dose to extend protection from the first doses.
Booster doses are currently being offered to people at higher risk from coronavirus.
Timing of a third dose
The third dose should be given at least eight weeks after your second dose, but the timing will depend on any treatment you may be having. Your health specialist can advise on the best time to have your third dose.
If you have a weakened immune system and have been given an earlier second or third dose appointment for clinical reasons, you should attend your appointment as planned.
If you have been invited for a third dose and the time or date is not suitable, you can rearrange your appointment.
If you have not had either your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should arrange to have them. You will still need the third dose but the timing of it will depend on any treatment you may be having.