A third primary dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is being offered to people with a severely weakened immune system. This third primary dose is an extra ‘top-up’ dose to help increase the level of protection for people who may not have generated a full immune response to the first two doses and might be less protected than the wider population.
A third primary dose is different from a booster dose. A booster dose is an additional dose to extend the duration of protection from previous doses.
If you're 12 years or over and are eligible for a third primary dose, you'll also need a booster dose to extend the protection from your previous doses. The booster dose can be given at least 3 months (12 weeks) after your third primary dose.
Who is being offered a third primary dose?
People aged 5 years and over who had a severely weakened immune system around the time they had their first 2 doses of the coronavirus vaccine are now being offered a third primary 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
- a solid organ transplant
- a bone marrow or stem cell 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're 12 years or over and have not received an appointment and think you’ve been missed, contact your clinician or GP to discuss whether you should get a third primary dose.
If you're in a high risk group for flu, you can still have flu vaccine this winter season (but not in our coronavirus vaccination community clinics).
You may be able to get the flu vaccine at a NHS community pharmacy or via your midwife if you are pregnant. We will let you know if we are able to restart offering flu vaccines in any of our coronavirus community clinics in early 2022.
Having the third primary 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 primary dose.
How many doses will I need?
At this time, people with a severely weakened immune system are being offered 3 primary doses. People aged 12 or over are also being offered a booster dose to help improve protection.
The booster dose can be given at least 3 months (12 weeks) after your third primary dose.
More information about booster vaccinations
If you need help booking an appointment, phone the national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013 (open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).
Timing of a third primary dose
The third primary dose should be given at least 8 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 primary dose.
If you have a weakened immune system and have been given an earlier second or third primary dose appointment for clinical reasons, you should attend your appointment as planned.
If you have recently tested positive for coronavirus, you should wait until 4 weeks after the date you were tested to get any dose of the vaccine. You should do this even if you have no symptoms.
If you have been invited for a third primary 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 coronavirus vaccine, you should arrange to have them. You will still need the third primary dose but the timing of it will depend on any treatment you may be having.
More information is available in this third dose information leaflet.