Third shot for select group with severe immune disorder, booster not yet necessary | news item

News item | 14-09-2021 | 19:20

A specific group of patients with a severe immune disorder may be given better protection against the coronavirus with a third vaccination. This concerns patients who are being treated by a medical specialist for a specific condition or who are prescribed certain medicines. That is what the Health Council writes in a new advice that was presented today to Minister Hugo de Jonge of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS). From October, this select group of patients will receive an invitation for a third vaccination via their medical specialist in the hospital. The injection is taken at a GGD injection location. A booster for the general population, as a boost to previous vaccinations, is not yet necessary, not even for the elderly. RIVM closely monitors the protection of vaccines against corona. As soon as necessary, the GGD and RIVM are ready for a booster campaign.

It’s good news that the general population booster isn’t needed just yet. The effectiveness of the vaccines is also very high for the elderly and against the delta variant and has not yet shown a decrease in protection against serious disease. The vaccines provide 95 percent protection against hospitalization and 97 percent against ICU admission. The Health Council advises that RIVM continuously monitors hospital admissions, the situation in nursing homes and studies abroad. If a decrease in protection is detected, action can be taken quickly. Minister De Jonge accepts the advice.

To reduce ICU admissions, it is more important that the vaccination rate rises than giving a booster. This applies worldwide. That is why the Netherlands donates vaccines that are not put here.

Difference third shot and booster

The third shot for a select group of patients with a severe immune disorder is something completely different from a booster vaccination. A third shot is part of the basic vaccination course, which normally consists of two shots or one shot (in the case of the Janssen vaccine). Such an extra shot in the basic series can help some people achieve a good immune response. A booster, on the other hand, is a boost for people who have built up sufficient protection against corona after one (in the case of the Janssen vaccine) or after two injections, but whose immunity has decreased over time. The RIVM therefore keeps a close eye on the latter. It could be that a decrease only occurs after a longer period of time.

Who will get a third shot?

There are a few groups of patients with a severe immune disorder who do not build up enough resistance against COVID-19 after two vaccinations. For these specific patient groups, a third shot can help achieve better protection. From October they will receive an invitation for a third vaccination from their own treating medical specialist within a few weeks. They can then make an appointment with the GGD for their third vaccination. An exact list can be found on the RIVM site stating which patients are affected by which serious illnesses and conditions. This is expected to be about 200,000 to 400,000 people, all of whom are being treated by a medical specialist.

How is the list determined?

In recent weeks, RIVM has asked medical specialists in a working group for whom a third vaccination can provide better protection against corona. These medical specialists treat patients with a severely weakened immune system, as a result of a specific condition or certain medications. Their advice is based, among other things, on the results of eight additional medical examinations that were carried out on different patient groups in various hospitals. The research results show that some of the people with a serious immune disorder do not produce enough antibodies against COVID-19 after a first and second injection. It is expected that some of these patients will be able to produce sufficient antibodies after a third vaccination.

After a third vaccination, not all of these people with a severe immune disorder will be well protected. It is currently difficult to predict who this will apply to. The RIVM is keeping a close eye on this. It is therefore very important that other persons in the household of these patients are vaccinated.

If you want to know which patients are eligible for a third vaccination, it is best to look at this overview on the RIVM site.

The advice of the Health Council can be found here.

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