At-risk patients struggle to get their vital boosters
China In The Dock
By Eve Simmons
VULNERABLE people with compromised immune systems are being denied a third shot of Covid vaccine that is vital to keep them safe – because of confusion over their eligibility. Ministers agreed last month that about 500,000 people with impaired immunity, such as cancer patients or recipients of organ donations, should get a third shot – described as a ‘third primary dose’. The decision followed studies which found many such individuals fail to respond properly after their first two doses because their immune systems are not fully functioning. However, scientists discovered a third jab triggers a protective immune response against Covid in 60 per cent of them. But some GPs and hospital consultants are unaware of this programme and have confused it with the campaign to give over-50s a third ‘booster’ shot, announced on September 14. As a result, hundreds of ‘at-risk’ under-50s have been wrongly told they cannot have a third jab. Among them is logistics manager Steve Richardson, 38, who received a donor kidney last December. As a result he must take immune-suppressant drugs for life so his body does not reject the organ. When he contacted NHS staff in Lincolnshire for his third dose, ‘they pretty much said, “Sorry, we don’t know what you’re on about.”’ NHS letters were sent to GPs and hospital specialists in England about third primary doses on September 2, but many are yet to send out invitations to eligible patients. NHS England said it has since sent an urgent follow-up letter to clinicians, instructing them to dispatch invitations by tomorrow.