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Covid-19 vaccination and lung cancer

Following the recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), people considered immune-suppressed will soon be offered a third Covid-19 vaccination.

The decision comes after some studies show many people who are immunosuppressed have lower levels of antibodies after the standard two-jab primary course, with preliminary data suggesting around 40% of people of low levels of antibodies.

Scientists have found people who are immunosuppressed, including those who had some treatments for lung cancer, have had less benefit from the 2 doses of vaccine received. Offering a third dose means that people who have lung cancer will have a similar level of protection from covid-19 infection as healthy people who had 2 doses.

Who will have a third vaccine?

The third jab will be available to people aged 12 and over with severely weakened immune systems. This includes lung cancer patients who are having or had recent immunosuppressive treatment, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

It also includes people with leukaemia, aggressive lymphomas, immunosuppression due to HIV/Aids; those who have had recent stem cell transplants, and others on high doses of steroids.

It is estimated around 500,000 people in the UK will be eligible for the third vaccine.

Is this third vaccine the same as the booster jab?

The third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is not a booster jab. A third jab will be offered to a group of people with weakened immune systems, including many lung cancer patients, to help improve protection against the virus.

This offer is separate to any potential booster programme to the wider community, which is still under consideration by the JCVI.

When will I get my third vaccination?

Invitations are now being sent by NHS England to those who are eligible for a third vaccine. The letter may come from either your GP or the hospital where you are receiving treatment.

The third vaccine will be administered from 8 weeks after your second dose.

If you are currently on active treatment, your consultant will help identify when it is the best time to have your vaccine. For example, if you are having pulses of treatment, your consultant may decide it is best for you to have the third dose in the middle of your treatment. If you have any questions about the timing of your vaccine, speak to your consultant.

We are currently seeking guidance about third vaccines being offered to people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Do I have to shield again until I get my third vaccine?

Shielding advice was paused on 1st April 2021. It is your personal decision if you choose to shield.

Your clinical team may advise you to shield, or limit your social contacts, if you are about to start immunosuppressing treatment.

It is also extremely important that you continue take extra precautions including washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and maintaining social distancing where appropriate. You may also wish to continue to wear a protective face covering you do go out.

I have just been diagnosed with lung cancer. Can I have a third vaccine?

If you have not yet started your lung cancer treatment, you will not be offered a third vaccine. This is because you are likely to have a good immune response with just two doses.

If I had surgery, or treatment more than 12 months ago, will I be offered a third jab?

Currently, the third vaccine will be offered to people who are having or have recently had immunosuppressive treatment. The decision to offer a third vaccine to those not in active treatment for 12-months or more will be made on a case-by-case basis and reviewed by your clinical team. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your consultant or lung cancer nurse specialist.