- Steve Harrison suffered kidney failure and has barely left his home since 2019
- After a kidney transplant, he takes drugs to suppress his immune system.
- This means that even the Kovid-19 vaccine is ineffective for him and is putting him at risk.
- About 500,000 fellow Briton Mr. Harrison, 38 . are in the same position as
Transplant patient Steve Harrison has barely left his home since late February last year because he fears catching Covid. And with good reason.
The 38-year-old logistics manager suffered kidney failure, and in December, after ten months of arduous wait, he finally had a kidney transplant. But the drugs Steve takes to make sure his body doesn’t reject the new kidney suppresses his immune system – and, unfortunately, has made the COVID vaccine ineffective.
He is not alone. Nearly half a million Britons with similar conditions are in the same boat: some are expected to produce COVID-fighting antibodies, despite being double-jaded.
Steve Harrison, 38, from Lincolnshire, photographed with his wife Donna, suffered kidney failure and had a life-saving transplant in December. However, the anti-rejection drugs they need to take suppress their immune system, leaving the COVID-19 vaccine ineffective
Transplant recipients receive little protection from the COVID-19 vaccination because of the drugs they take to suppress their immune system to prevent their body from rejecting the organ.
And so, early last month, the government announced additional ‘top-up’ doses for this group – officially called the third primary dose – to give their immune systems a chance to fight.
Studies show that in 60 percent of these cases, the third dose has the desired effect. And if that happens, Steve will finally be able to live a normal life again.
But a problem has arisen. Charities and campaigners say there are many patients across the country who are eligible for a third primary dose, have yet to be given one, or worse, have been told they cannot have one. And that’s because many GPs, and even hospital consultants, are not aware of the program.
Part of the confusion has come from the timing of the announcement. The third primary dosing scheme was introduced on 1 September. Two weeks later, on September 14, the government announced that everyone over the age of 50 would get a booster shot – something completely different.
The boosters are being offered because the latest evidence suggests the vaccine’s effect is beginning to dwindle in people who got their shot at the beginning of the year.
It’s confusing to say the least, says Dr Michelle Willicombe, transplant lead and an immunology researcher at the Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust: ‘There is a large group of high-risk patients that we now know are given three doses of the vaccine. are needed, not two, to mount an immune response. Unfortunately, the message seems to have been confused with the introduction of the Booster programme.’
That means, experts say, healthy 50-plus are being offered an extra boost of protection ‘just in case’ their immunity from their first two doses has worsened, while others – those who are really vulnerable – Everyone is being left without any protection.
Charities including Kidney Care UK and Blood Cancer UK have reported an influx of calls from worried, sick patients who feel they are being left behind because they have not been invited for their third primary dose and are on boosters. are not eligible because they are less than 50.
Charities including Kidney Care UK and Blood Cancer UK have reported an influx of calls from worried, sick patients who feel they are being left behind because they have not been invited for their third primary dose and are on boosters. are not eligible because they are 50 . are less than
‘Last week we received nearly 500 calls from people struggling to reach their third jab,’ says Fiona Loud, Policy Director, Kidney Care UK. ‘Everyone is saying the same thing: help, my GP hasn’t heard of the third primary dose.’
Last week The Mail on Sunday GP columnist Dr Ellie Cannon wrote about the shocking situation – and we are full of letters from readers who are facing a similar battle.
Now, in an effort to clarify the situation, we’ve spoken to some of the UK’s top experts to find out what’s going on, and to explain what patients should do.
For Lincolnshire’s Steve, reaching his critical third primary dose has proved to be a battle after his hospital consultant, GP and clinic reception staff ‘appeared clueless’, he says, when asked about the third primary dose. ‘He said a lot, “Sorry, we don’t know what you’re about” and batted us between the hospital and the GP.’
Frustrated, Steve’s wife, civil servant Donna, emailed a copy of the government guidance for additional doses to her GP, hospital advisor, and their local clinical commissioning group. He says: ‘He replied by saying I’m not eligible for a booster yet, because of my age, but I tried to explain that it wasn’t a booster – it was something different.’
Letters were sent to all GPs and hospital consultants in England explaining the plan a day after the third primary dosage schedule was announced. But experts say many health professionals have not yet sent out invitations to eligible patients.
The third primary dose should be given eight to 12 weeks after the second dose. On the other hand, boosters are scheduled to be given six months after your last dose.
The Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization introduced the plan in early September after the Medical Research Council found that 40 percent of patients with conditions such as cancer and kidney disease and those taking powerful immune-suppressing drugs do not have enough antibodies to fight them. make. virus after two doses. Preliminary US and Canadian studies have found that, in immune-compromised people, giving a third dose two months after the second dose…