How the 3rd Covid primary jab differs from the 3rd Covid booster jab ?

Until today, I had been unaware of the distinction between the third booster covid jab and the third primary covid jab, until it was explained by Professor Linda Bauld on Breakfast tv this morning.

The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI) that advises the government on vaccination schedules and vaccine safety, has recommended that people aged 12 years and over who were immunosuppressed (have a weakened immune system) at the time of their first and second COVID vaccines (primary vaccination), should receive a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccination is being called a ‘third dose’ as it is being recommended as part of the primary COVID-19 vaccination. The first two doses of the vaccine also make up your primary vaccination. This third dose is only being given to people who are less likely to have had a strong immune response to the first two doses.

If you are eligible for a third dose, you may be offered a different vaccine to your first two vaccine doses. In particular, people who previously received the AstraZeneca vaccine are now likely to receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as their third dose, as recommended by the JCVI.  Recent studies suggest that having the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by the Pfizer vaccine gives a better immune response than two AstraZeneca vaccines, although these studies did not include people who were immunosuppressed.

It is important that this group are given a third dose vaccine first, and not a booster vaccine, because there are different vaccine doses recommended for third dose and booster vaccines. It also means this group will be correctly identified as needing a fourth (booster) dose in the future (pending confirmation by JCVI).

JCVI have advised a preference for mRNA vaccines for the third primary dose, with the option of the AstraZeneca Vaxzevria vaccine for individuals who have received this vaccine previously where this would facilitate delivery. MRHA have licensed half dose Moderna vaccine for booster and full dose for third primary dose.

The booster programme is separate from the third dose, and is being offered to people in certain groups from September. The JCVI will review whether people who have had a third dose as part of their primary vaccination need a further booster vaccine, at a later date. The booster dose will be given to priority groups, in the same order as Phase 1 of the initial vaccination programme. This includes:

  • People living in residential care homes for older adults;
  • All adults aged 50 years and over
  • Frontline health and social care workers.
  • People aged 16-49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19
  • People who live with someone who is immunosuppressed. click full source.

So there you have it. The differences between the different vaccines and their doses for the 3rd primary dose and the 3rd booster jab are not entirely clear in the available articles on the subject. For those wanting more information, click for the Full JCVI Statement.

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