COVID-19 vaccines for people with weakened immune systems

If you have a weakened immune system, you may be able to get extra doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Getting all the vaccine doses available to you is the best way to protect yourself against severe illness from COVID-19. This is particularly important if you have a weakened immune system, because you may be at increased risk of becoming very unwell if infected with COVID-19.

What doses can I get?

If you are aged 12-15 and have a health condition that puts you at higher risk from COVID-19, or live with someone who has a weakened immune system, you can get:

  1. First dose and second dose, at least eight weeks apart
  2. Booster dose from three months (91 days) after second dose

If you are aged 12 or over and have a weakened immune system, you can get:

  1. First dose and second dose, at least eight weeks apart
  2. Booster dose from three months (91 days) after previous dose
  3. Spring booster around 6 months (and not before 3 months) after previous dose

If you are aged 12 or over and have a severely weakened immune system, you can get:

  1. First dose and second dose, at least eight weeks apart
  2. Third primary dose, typically eight weeks after second dose (the timing may vary depending on any treatment you may be having. This is because vaccines administered during periods of minimum immunosuppression are more likely to generate better immune responses. You should talk to your doctor about the best timing for you.)
  3. Booster dose from three months (91 days) after previous dose.
  4. Spring booster around 6 months (and not before 3 months) after previous dose.

Children aged 5-11 with certain health conditions, a weakened immune system or who live with someone who has a weakened immune system can get:

  1. First dose and second dose, at least 8 weeks apart

Download eligibility table here

How do I know if I am eligible?

If you or your child are eligible for any of the extra doses, you should get a text message, phone call or letter from the NHS inviting you to book an appointment.

If you think you are eligible but have not received an invitation to book an appointment, you should talk to your GP or specialist about it. You can also take any hospital letter about your condition, or any relevant prescription or medicine box with your name on it, to a walk-in vaccination centre and talk to the clinicians there about getting extra doses of the vaccine.

More detail about eligibility

The reference book used by health professionals, known at the Green Book, lists many of the conditions and treatments that mean people are eligible for the extra doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The relevant sections of the book are shown below. You may want to discuss this information with your doctor.

Vaccines for 5-11 year olds

For children aged 5 – 11, the conditions and treatments which mean they are at higher risk from coronavirus infection and are eligible for two doses of vaccine are listed in Table 4 on page 22 of the Green Book. All of Table 4 applies for this category.

Boosters for 12-15 year olds

For young people aged 12-15, the conditions and treatments which mean they are at higher risk from coronavirus infection and are eligible for a booster dose are listed in Table 4 on page 22 of the Green Book. All of Table 4 applies for this category.

Spring booster

For people aged 12-15, the treatments and conditions that mean they have a weakened immune system and can get a Spring booster are listed in the “immunosuppression” row of Table 4 on page 22 of the Green Book.

For people aged 16+, conditions and treatments are listed in the “immunosuppression” row of Table 3 on page 16 of the Green Book.

Third primary dose

For people aged 12 and over, the treatments and conditions that mean they have a severely weakened immune system and can get a third primary dose are listed in Box 1 on page 25 of Green Book. They include:

  • a blood cancer (such as leukaemia or lymphoma)
  • a weakened immune system due to a treatment (such as steroid medicine, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
  • an organ or bone marrow transplant
  • a condition that means you have a very high risk of getting infections
  • a condition or treatment your specialist advises makes you eligible for a 3rd dose

Booster doses are available to everyone aged 16 and over. A third primary dose is for people with a severely weakened immune system who may not have responded well to their first two doses.

A booster dose makes the immune response to vaccination last as long as possible.

The third dose should be given ideally at least eight weeks after the second dose, but the timing will depend on any treatment you may be having. Your specialist will advise on the best time to have your third dose in discussion with you.

You can use the online national booking service or call 119 to book a 3rd dose if you’re 16 years old or over and eligible for the 3rd dose for people with a severely weakened immune system.

If you’re eligible for a 3rd dose, you should have received a letter from a GP or hospital specialist, inviting you to book a 3rd dose. If you have not received a letter but you think you’re eligible for a 3rd dose, please contact your GP or hospital specialist.

If your care is currently under a consultant in a hospital, it is possible that they may arrange it for you. 

If you have a letter from a GP or hospital consultant confirming you’re eligible for a third dose, you can also go to a walk-in vaccination site.

If you or your child are aged under 18 and eligible for a 3rd dose, you can take your letter to any walk-in vaccination site that is offering 3rd doses. Please also check that the site is offering vaccines for you or your child’s age group.

You must have a letter from your GP or hospital specialist. If you do not bring the letter, you will not be able to receive a 3rd dose of the vaccine at your appointment.

Most people will be offered a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine. This means your third dose may be different from the vaccines you had for your first and second doses.

Some people may be offered a third dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine; this will be decided with your specialist.

Yes. A booster dose can be given from 3 months after your third dose.

The booster dose is important to give you as much protection against COVID-19 as possible.

A booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is available for everyone aged 16 and over. Find out who can get the COVID-19 booster dose.

If you’ve had the 3rd dose for people with a severely weakened immune system, you’ll be eligible for a booster dose from three months (91 days) after your 3rd dose.

You can book your booster dose online or call the national booking service on 119.

If you are about to receive immunosuppressive treatment, please discuss the timing of your booster dose with your GP or consultant.

If you received a letter from your GP or hospital specialist inviting you for your 3rd dose, you can get your booster at a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site from 3 months after your third dose. You’ll need to bring your letter with you.