As of 21 February 2022 the JCVI recommends that people aged 12 and above who have blood cancer – MPN – should have five vaccine doses (three primary doses and two boosters).
Blood cancer and immunosuppression
Most people who are living with blood cancer have a weakened immune system, which makes it harder to fight off viruses and other bugs. This is called immunosuppression. Immunosuppressed people are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from covid.
That’s why, when covid vaccines first become available, people were prioritised for vaccination if they:
- had any type of blood cancer (leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, MDS, MPN), whether they were on treatment or not
- were immunosuppressed as a result of blood cancer in the past
- had had a stem cell or bone marrow transplant in the past
- had any other underlying condition that meant they were classed as “clinically vulnerable” or “clinically extremely vulnerable”
Going forward, people who are immunosuppressed, including most people with blood cancer, are being offered extra vaccinations. While covid vaccinations may not work as well for immunosuppressed people, there’s evidence that repeated doses can offer better protection. People who are severely immunosuppressed may also be eligible for new antiviral treatments if they get covid.
Adults and young people aged 12 and over with blood cancer
As someone who has a weakened immune system because of blood cancer, you should have three primary doses of a covid vaccine followed by two boosters.
Research shows there are no safety concerns about mixing vaccines, so you can safely have vaccines that are different from your previous doses.
How to book your fourth dose (first booster) if you’re 16 or over
If you have not yet booked your fourth (booster) dose of the covid vaccine, follow the guidance for the UK country you live in:
You can get your fourth dose (booster) at a vaccination centre if it’s been 3 months since your third dose, and you have a letter from a hospital team/doctor. You can book an appointment online or go to a walk-in vaccination site.
If you had a letter from your hospital team/doctor confirming your eligibility for the THIRD primary dose, you can use the letter at a vaccination centre to get your FOURTH booster dose too.
If you think you’re eligible for a fourth dose but you do not have a suitable letter, contact your GP or hospital specialist to ask for one. Show them this letter from NHS England which explains that they need to provide you with some written evidence for your fourth dose.
If you don’t have a letter, we suggest you contact your vaccination centre and ask if they will accept other evidence of your eligibility such as:
- a letter from your haematologist/GP showing that you had blood cancer at the time of your 1st or 2nd dose
- evidence of the medication you were taking at the time of your 1st or 2nd dose – a hospital letter that describes the medication you were prescribed for your MPN, a copy of your prescription or a medication box with your name and the date on it
- this letter produced by MPN Voice
Not all centres are able to offer fourth doses. Use the online search to check for centres that say “3rd dose for people with a weakened immune system” as they should be able to provide fourth doses.
If your third primary dose was recorded as a booster, this doesn’t matter, you are still eligible for a fourth dose, and this will be recorded as a second booster.
You could download this FAQ document from NHS England about this, to help with any conversations with your doctor or vaccination centre.
If you had your third primary dose at least 3 months (12 weeks) ago, your health board should invite you for a fourth (booster) dose.
You can also refer them to this letter produced by MPN Voice.
If you had your third primary dose at least 3 months ago, your health board should invite you for a fourth dose. See this web page for Wales about third doses and boosters.
In Northern Ireland, people will be identified by their Trust clinician or GP for a fourth dose. If you have a letter from your GP or another clinician confirming that you need a booster, you should be able to book online. You can also refer them to this letter produced by MPN Voice.
Fifth dose (second booster)
Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the government has announced that people over 75 and people aged 12 or over who are immunosuppressed will be offered a fifth dose of the vaccine. This is to be given six months after the fourth dose.
The fifth dose is a booster dose. Adults over 18 could have either of these vaccines:
- a full dose of the Pfizer vaccine
- a half dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Young people aged 12 to 18 years old will be offered a full dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The government hasn’t yet provided details of how the fifth dose will be rolled out. We will update this section as we learn more.