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Research supports third vaccine dose in clinically vulnerable

Public Health Scotland research has supported a third vaccine dose to people previously on the shielding list and who are known to be clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

The study, led by Public Health Scotland and supported by the University of Edinburgh, considered whether people classed as clinically extremely vulnerable had the same level of protection from COVID-19 after two doses compared to the rest of the population.

People are designated to be clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 if they have certain medical conditions or take specific medicines that affect their immune system. A weakened immune system not only puts some people at greater risk of experiencing complications with COVID-19, it may also reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines they receive.

Researchers found that people previously in this group had 66 per cent protection against severe COVID-19 disease after two doses of any COVID-19 vaccine compared to 93 per cent protection in those without high-risk conditions.

PHS reports that of the 330 cases of severe COVID-19 in people who were double vaccinated by 2 September 2021, almost half were designated as extremely vulnerable and most of the remainder have been in people with moderate risk conditions.

Discussing the findings, co-author of the study, Professor Helen Colhoun of the University of Edinburgh, said: “The fact that we see an increase in protection from the first to the second dose gives hope that a third dose might increase protection further.”

On 1 September, the Joint Commission on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) recommended a third dose of vaccine for people who are most immunosuppressed.

Dr Nicholas Phin, Director of Public Health Science at Public Health Scotland, said: “If you are contacted to receive a third dose then please do take the opportunity to bolster your protection against COVID-19.”

Read the full study, ‘Variation in efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination against severe COVID-19 by clinical vulnerability status’ (yet to be peer-reviewed)

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