In August 2021, JCVI and The UK Health Security Agency announced that people who are at an extremely high risk of developing complications if they were to contract COVID-19 would be offered a third dose of a Covid vaccine.

Recent studies have shown that many people with blood cancer and blood disorders have not mounted a satisfactory immune response following two doses of the Covid vaccine. Therefore, in order to provide the best protection, an additional third dose has been recommended.

The difference between a 'third primary dose' and a 'booster'

Across the UK, a programme of 'booster' vaccinations is also running alongside the 'third primary dose' programme for people who are severely immunocompromised. We have received many reports from people affected by aplastic anaemia who have been invited for a booster, rather than a third primary dose - and in some cases, reports of clinical staff being unaware of the existence of a third primary dose.

While the actual vaccine, Pfizer and its dose are identical for both the third primary dose and the booster programme, there are key differences in the timescales for receiving the vaccine - and because of this, it is essential that a person with aplastic anaemia receives a third primary dose, and not a booster.

Currently, the official guidelines state that a third primary dose may be given at least eight weeks following the second dose, in order to ensure that individuals who are severely immunocompromised receive the best protection. In contrast, a booster dose can only be given six months following the last dose.

Crucially, people who are eligible for a third primary dose are likely to be eligible for a further booster dose in the future, likely six months after receiving their third primary dose. However, if the vaccine is recorded in a person's medical records as a booster, and not a third primary dose, it is likely that they will encounter issues accessing a booster dose in the future.

I've been invited for a booster, and not a third primary dose. What can I do?

It is essential that people with aplastic anaemia should be offered a third primary dose in addition to their primary course of vaccinations, rather than a single booster vaccination. If you have been invited for a booster vaccine, there are a number of resources available that you can use to access a third primary dose.

Sam, our Support and Outreach Lead has written a letter, explaining the need for people with aplastic anaemia to receive a third primary dose, and a subsequent booster in the future. This letter is available to download by clicking the button below. 

Download Vaccination Letter

Alternatively, if you would like to receive a printed copy, please contact us at [email protected], or by phone on 0300 102 3202, and we can arrange this for you.

Blood Cancer UK has also released some useful guidance and resources for people finding it difficult to access a third dose, which can be accessed by clicking the button below.

Go to Blood Cancer UK

Cold season Q & A with Dr Austin Kulasekararaj

Consultant haematologist Dr Austin Kulasekararaj joined us on 30 September 2021 for a live Q & A session about cold and flu season, vaccinations, and how aplastic anaemia patients should keep themselves safe.
In this event recording:
1. Austin explains the different between a third dose Covid vaccination and a booster.
2. Austin answers pre-submitted questions about the flu vaccine and aplastic anaemia
3. Austin answers pre-submitted questions about the Covid-19 vaccine and aplastic anaemia
4. Austin takes follow-up questions from people in the call including how to ask your GP for a third dose vaccination and which Covid vaccination he would recommend for aplastic anaemia patients.

Watch the recording of this event below: