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. So you should hear from the NHS if you're eligible.
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 primary dose". Each person’s risk is different, so everyone needs an individual decision.
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.
But you’ll also be eligible for a booster jab, at least 3 months after your third dose. 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.
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. And we updated it again on 13 December 2021 to reflect the offer of booster jabs for people wjo have a third primary dose.