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Third COVID-19 jab for some people with MS

People with ‘severely weakened immune systems’ will be offered a third COVID-19 jab, to increase the protection they can get from the vaccine. That will include some people with MS.

Do I have a weakened immune system?

Having MS itself doesn’t mean you’ll have a weakened immune system. But some treatments might have that effect, for varying lengths of time.

To get protection from a vaccine, we need our immune systems to react after we get the jab. A weaker immune system is less likely to have a big enough reaction, so we might not build the protection we need.

We know this is a worry for some people, and you might want to take extra precautions. We’ve put together information to help you make decisions around your own level of risk.

Right now hospitals tell us they are not having to treat many people with MS for COVID-19. That’s good news of course, and getting a third jab could increase your protection.

How will I hear if I’m getting a third jab?

Neurologists and GPs will consider who should be offered this extra jab in England, Scotland and Wales. So you should hear from the NHS if you're eligible. We expect decisions about this from Northern Ireland in the next few days.

Doctors will offer this third jab depending on your overall risk from COVID-19.

You’re most likely to be contacted if you've:

  • had HSCT in the last 2 years
  • you’ve recently been treated with ocrelizumab, rituximab, ofatumumab, fingolimod, or siponimod. This would usually be if you’ve had the treatment in the last 3 to 6 months.

Unfortunately, we can’t say for sure who’ll be offered this third dose. Each person’s risk is different, so everyone needs an individual decision.

Most people with MS, and possibly everyone with MS, could be offered a third dose of vaccine later on, through plans for booster jabs.

Read our COVID-19 vaccine information

How will a third jab of the vaccine help?

A third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t guarantee everyone who has a weakened immune system will get a good level of protection from the virus.

But the JCVI expects many people will increase their immunity. They’ve said that a ‘large minority’ is likely to get this benefit. 

Is this third jab a booster jab?

This extra dose isn’t a booster jab. It's a third dose to try to get people to a ‘fully vaccinated’ level of protection. That’s what lots of people get after just 2 doses.

The JCVI is still considering their advice for a separate scheme of booster jabs later on. They're waiting for more research evidence before they give their final advice about who should get those, and when.

The plan for booster jabs could include people who've had a third dose because of a weakened immune system.

A booster could help keep up the protection that vaccines give against COVID-19. It could also give added protection against new variants of the virus.

Find out more about COVID-19 vaccines and MS

This news story was originally published on 2 September 2021. We updated it on 6 September with a link to information about risk and more about specific DMTs and the third COVID-19 vaccine jab.